(Cody, WY): Anyone who has had the opportunity to travel down the streets of Cody, Wyoming will know of its astounding art and traditions. The former Gambles Hardware building is now being refurbished into the By Western Hands Design Center – rich with education, craft, and history… a building that fits in perfectly with our remarkable town.
The new Design Center is being shaped by the non – profit organization, By Western Hands (BWH). On their mission to preserve western art, they have worked hard hosting events, celebrating artisans, and keeping western traditions alive. The new BWH Design Center is a perfect representation of the values that By Western Hands is determined to support – promoting artisans, and overall sustaining the creation of decorative and functional art. This important mission will be supported through three components in the Design Center – an education and training center, a member gallery, and a western museum.
Through education, exhibition, and history, the BWH Design Center will ensure that western art will continue to thrive for years to come.
Because it is composed of three elements, the building can accomplish multiple purposes at once. The Design Center will become a place for everyone to enjoy. Whether an artisan, student, or buyer, the home for western design will be a home for local, state, and community arts.
“If you think of it in terms of a stool, the By Western Hands organization would be the top of the stool,” said Executive Director Dennie Hammer. “What supports that in this new Design Center will be the three different but equally important legs.”
Maintaining western craft is one main goal of the By Western Hands Design Center. The education and training center, containing a workshop, is the first leg, helping keep this purpose standing.
“The workshop is going to be a space for those working under an apprenticeship program with By Western Hands and Northwest College, and others learning different artisan skills,” stated Hammer.
Because the education and training center correlates with Northwest College, artisans can volunteer to help train students who are apprenticing under the college’s curriculum. This learning opportunity will connect those with a desire for the honored craft, passing on western design for future generations.
Not only will artisans be able to showcase their trade through the education and training center, they will be able to share their trade through the next part of the By Western Hands stool – the member gallery. The gallery will become a designated place for buyers and artisans to meet, providing a simple way for everyone to view western talent.
As artisans display their work in the member gallery, they will be assisted with a showcase room, the support of the By Western Hands website, and authenticity to reinforce their business.
The museum is the final component in helping support the By Western Hands mission.
“The museum will give not only the history but highlight some of the finest furniture from the past as well as looking on to the future,” said co-founder Carlene Lebous. “The past informs the future.”
Through a display of history, intricate pieces, and private collections, the museum will revolve around the importance of western design to the world.
Cody resident, Wally Reber, who recently retired from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, will establish the archive and curate the BWH museum. Through a 3D model, Mr. Reber described the layout of the museum, designed to tell a story, beginning with the history of Thomas Molesworth who brought forth the concept of western design to our Cody community.
“The applause goes to Molesworth as he introduced us all to this defined sort of western style,” said Reber. “But then it was carried on, and contemporaries used the style at this point in time.”
In the same way that Thomas Molesworth designs were continued, the museum’s layout will be designed. As the room entry leads the guests into an area with contemporary designs, the evolution of western furniture into special contemporary designs will display Molesworth style modifications. “This is a way to put real value on the material out there,” said Reber.
Those who are interested in the craft, talent, or history of western themed art will have the opportunity to savor it all in one place. The museum will be a space, overflowing with knowledge and helping to honor western style traditions for future generations.
“Over the years, not only did we build friendships and watch the level of design created, we realized there was a lot to make sure that we preserved over the years,” said Lebous.
The construction of the Design Center is still in progress with many people persevering to ensure it will become a home for everyone to appreciate, preserve, and experience a piece of what makes western themed functional art so important.
“It’s been a fairly clear roadmap of how these three components came together,” said co-founder Harris Haston.
The Design Center will not only fit in perfectly here in Cody, Wyoming, but will secure western traditions live on forever in our remarkable Western town.