Skip to main content

Jacksonites receive Governor’s Art Award

December 21, 2016

Jacksonites receive Governor’s Art Award

By Erika Dahlby

Sandlin, Harris win annual accolade for championing writing, curating.

The first thing Tim Sandlin thought when he got the call this month that he was a recipient of the 2016 Governor’s Arts Award was, “Boy, I wish my mom was alive to see this.”

Sandlin is being honored for his writing and being an advocate for the arts. The Wyoming Arts Council hands out the award every year to people for their contributions made in Wyoming that exemplify longterm commitment to the arts.

Sandlin has been running the Jackson Hole Writers Conference for 26 years and is the author of 11 novels and several screenplays. He claims Wyoming as home and has lived in Jackson for 50 years.

While Wyoming may not be the first state that comes to mind as a patron of the arts, Sandlin thinks otherwise.

“I’m really proud to be from Wyoming because of the arts culture,” he said.

The Wyoming Legislature is a supporter of the arts, he said, and actually gives more money to its programs per capita than the state of California.

Three others were awarded the honor alongside Sandlin, including another Teton County resident, Adam Duncan Harris, an author, art historian and the curator at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Marianne Vinich, an art teacher and visual artist from Lander is also receiving the award and Forrest E. Mars Jr., an arts patron from Big Horn, is receiving the award posthumously.

It’s not an easy process, said Jocelyn Boss, who nominated Harris.

She heard about the award at last years’ Wyoming Arts Council Gala and thought it would be a fitting honor for Harris. She kept the nomination secret from Harris and compiled recommendations, letter, samples of work, resumes and accomplishments.

“I thought, ‘How many people have done all this in the state of Wyoming?’” Boss said as she sorted through the collection of Harris’ work spread out on her desk. “It’s pretty incredible when you go and compile it all.

“I know he’s done a lot, but when you really look at the span of his career it’s impressive.”

Harris was surprised to learn he was nominated, and even more shock set in when he heard the news that he had received an award.

Harris grew up in Laramie and attended the University of Wyoming for his master’s degree. He hopes the award and the people who advocate for the arts are able to have an effect in Wyoming communities.

“I think that arts in any community make it a better place and a better place to live,” he said. “I think it’s really important in a state like this to foster those ties and those possibilities, and especially for kids to be exposed to the arts.”

As curator of the wildlife art museum Harris is in charge of researching exhibits to bring to the museum and putting together new shows. It’s a lot of researching, writing and interpreting, he said.

“It’s the most fun job in the museum because you get to work directly with the art,” Harris said.

He has also written books and essays and has contributed to catalogues.

Any Wyoming citizen can be nominated. The award criteria include length of commitment to the arts, outstanding contribution or impact, breadth of support, involvement in special initiatives supporting the arts, artistic excellence and level of standards.

The recipients of the award will be honored at an awards ceremony and dinner on Feb. 3 in Cheyenne.

The award was established in 1982. Since then individuals and organizations from more than 20 communities and statewide organizations have been honored. Contact Erika Dahlby at 732-5909 or


Adam Harris, curator of art and research at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, is one of two Jackson recipients of the 2016 Governor’sArtsAwards from the WyomingArts Council. Winners are selected for contributions made in Wyoming that exemplify a long-term commitment to the arts, with special consideration given to nominees whose arts service is statewide.



What People Are Saying