In 1990, an unlikely group of fiction writers, poets, visual artists, teachers, students and celebrities came together to celebrate Wyoming's centennial with a unique micro press book as rich in content as it is
now, 24 years later, hard to find.
Past, Present & Posterity: Wyoming 1890-1990 is a spiral bound mash-up with short contributions (one to three pages each) from every corner of the arts and every part of Wyoming's bright and varied culture. Everybody was invited and anybody could be represented. It was edited by Nancy Jennings, Linda Love, Sherry Tavegie and printed in Buffalo, Wyoming early in the year.
Living in Laramie, eking out a few bucks here and there as an artist, I was putting up a solo show of my western paintings and the director of the gallery, who knew I was also writing, suggested a I contribute something to the centennial project. My non-fiction piece describing an art project was accepted, and I kept it on my resume for a few years as a professional credit. When we moved to South Carolina, I promptly lost my only copy. Even a few years after publication it was hard to get a replacement. In fact, it was harder then than now with Amazon and AbeBooks.com available at our fingertips. I finally got a new copy a few weeks ago, and I'm still paging through it.
Third generation rancher Charles Lawrence contributed a piece about historical cattle brands. Western novelist Les Wayne Merha, who wrote as "Les Wayne" gave us a history of the French-Canadian trapper Joseph LaRamee, he who the river, county and town are named after. TV's Morey Amsterdam contributed a song, and famed lawyer Gerry Spence sent in a familiar fable. Included here are art projects and poems, recipes and legends. It's an odd mix, but what makes it work is each contributor's obvious love for their home state.
Keep an eye out for it. If you find a copy for less than $20, grab it up for your reference library. Get it for:
Paula Taylor's bullet list of Flirtations with Handkerchief, Fan, Glove and Parasol.
George Fraker's step-by-step guide to constructing your own western saddle from scratch
Nadine Zowada's essay on dying yarn with natural dyes.
Marva Haukass piece on the Shosone method of brain tanning hides.
Patrick Walsh's story about the Famous Deadline of 1908
Get it for stories about Butch Cassidy, the Abe Lincoln monument on I-80, and the wildfires of 1988.
A few copies are available at Amazon and AbeBooks.com