Art Exhibitions Part of Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploration Expedition Project

man painting
UW Associate Lecturer Patrick Kikut, lead artist for the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploration Expedition art project, works on his piece for the exhibition. (Priscilla Wigington Photo)
(April 16, 2019) – Art exhibitions that are part of the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploration Expedition (SCREE) are set to open this month and run through the winter.

Titled “Contemporary Views of the Arid West: People, Places and Spaces,” the expanded exhibition will be distributed in communities along the Green and Colorado rivers as SCREE retraces the route of John Wesley Powell’s 1869 expedition. Powell’s three-month trip is known as the first investigation of long segments of the rivers and the first recorded passage of white men through the entirety of the Grand Canyon.

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The SCREE project, led by University of Wyoming geography Associate Professor Tom Minckley, is a collective group of artists, authors, conservationists and scholars who will engage with citizens along the Colorado River corridor to consider visions for the future of the region.

Four museums along the route will feature a variety of work from numerous artists working with SCREE in an attempt to engage with the many issues concerning the greater Colorado River Basin. The concept of an expanded exhibition requires one to travel the length of the basin to experience the totality of the featured work.

The exhibition at the John Wesley Powell Museum in Page, Ariz., opened this week and will be followed by the John Wesley Powell River History Museum in Green River, Utah, April 25. The exhibition at the Sweetwater County Museum in Green River, Wyo., begins May 14, while the Uintah County Heritage Museum in Vernal, Utah, hosts an exhibition beginning May 30.

Work from eight artists will be on display, including four associated with UW’s Department of Visual and Literary Arts. SCREE’s lead artist is Patrick Kikut, who is an associate lecturer in painting. Other UW faculty are Brandon Gellis, assistant professor of graphic design; David Jones, art instructional technician; and Bailey Russel, academic professional in photography. Kikut, Jones and Russel also will create art while on the SCREE expedition. Their work on display at the museums includes oil and watercolor painting, woodcut relief prints, cast and laser-cut sculpture, and digital and wet-plate photography.

“Besides the exciting idea of making a road trip of close to 1,000 miles, the venues we have lined up are compelling,” Kikut says. “Most of the spaces don’t often feature contemporary art and focus their attention on historical exhibitions. I believe that placing our work in the context of historical items will bring in new understandings, as well as questions, to the current dialogue assessing John Wesley Powell and the role of artists in the exploration and, ultimately, the exploitation of the West.”

On May 24, the 150th anniversary of Powell’s trip, SCREE will embark on a 90-day rafting expedition that will provide a platform to engage local communities, stakeholders and tribes extending 1,000 miles from Green River, Wyo., to Lake Mead, Ariz.

During the journey, SCREE will host five in-person outreach events — including in Green River May 21-24 — with keynote speakers and art exhibitions to provide a platform for local communities to engage in a discussion about the current and future state of the river. Minckley will be joined by UW faculty members from the Department of Visual and Literary Arts, Department of Geography and College of Law, as well as UW alumni.

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For more details on the art exhibits or the SCREE project, visit, or email Kikut at [email protected] or call (307) 399-5665.

SCREE artists:

Kate Aitchison —

Brandon Gellis —

David Jones —

Patrick Kikut (lead artist) —

Erika Osborne —

Bailey Russel —

Chip Thomas —

William Wilson —

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