Jentel Day 1: Arrival

I’ve experienced a little of Wyoming’s colors before—backpacking in the Wind River Range, day hiking in the Tetons, camping in Yellowstone—but I’d never been to the eastern part of the state. Here, where crossing someone’s property line is like rudely walking into their front door. Here, where asking “How many acres?” or “How many head of cattle?” akin to asking someone’s annual salary. Here, where there’s a drive-through liquor store and if you know the owner, he’ll mix you a drink for the road.
It’s high desert ranching country with the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains encircling the city of Sheridan. Twenty miles out of town is Banner (no post office, no sign), and a few miles past that down an old gumbo road is the Jentel Artist Residency Program.
We are greeted with unprecedented kindnesses. A basket of fruit and chocolate, homemade broccoli spinach soup for dinner, artisan bread warming in the oven.
Next, we draw keys for rooms and studios. I’m in the Louise Nevelson Room and just down the hall I share a bathroom (that’s bigger than the room) with one other resident.
Most important, of course, is the studio. I draw the Sunset Studio on the right hand side of the Writer’s Cabin:
We share are meal and already we are laughing: the photgrapher from Seattle, the author and creative writing department director from Salt Lake City, the printmaker from Kentucky, the painter from Spokane, and myself. Sometime in the middle of the night the lone male, a visual artist from Texas, is supposed to arrive (his flight was cancelled), and then we’ll all be here.
So far? Magpies, vultures, pheasant (ring-necked?), mule deer, and white-tailed deer…and I’ve seen all that while wearing a cast!

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