Amy Goicoechea found herself in a pickle last October: Should she nominate her old friend and co-worker Bronwyn Minton for a Governor’s Arts Award as an individual artist, an arts educator, an arts administrator or an arts patron?
“In the nomination letter, you have to say what category the person is being nominated for,” she said. “What’s really cool, and how I submitted it, Bronwyn’s breadth makes her a nominee in all the categories.”
Minton, who last week was named the recipient of one of five Governor’s Arts Awards, has in her close to 30 years in Jackson created some distinctive and memorable works of art, organized more than a half dozen collaborative projects, taught several mediums to children from elementary school to high school as well as to adults, served as a curator at the National Museum of Wildlife Art and, since 2019, led the Art Association, one of the area’s oldest arts nonprofits. Her art has been widely displayed throughout the region, she has been named a Wyoming Arts Council fellow twice, and she is a recipient of the Cultural Council of Jackson Hole’s Creative Pulse Award.
“She’s creative across the board,” Goicoechea said.
“It’s important that I’m a maker,” said Minton, though she likes the term “arts instigator,” which hints at an undercurrent of mischievousness that occasionally surfaces in her work or in conversation with her. “But it’s also important that I encourage other makers and appreciators.”
Minton moved to Jackson in 1992, fresh from earning her bachelors of fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design.
“I think the Art Association was one of the first places I got involved in when I moved here,” she said.
In search of a community she could call her own, she took some classes through the nonprofit — at the time called the Community Visual Arts Association and led by Karen Stewart — and before long was teaching classes in the organization’s tiny dark room secreted away in the back of its Pearl Avenue home.
“The Art Association and the Wyoming Arts Council: I feel like both of those organization have given me opportunities to be creative in different ways that I may not have been able to do in other places,” Minton said. “This is such a cool state, because it’s small. … There are a lot of really talented people here.”
Working at the venerable Art Association also allowed her to meet and then interact and work with a lot of that talent. She has over the years pulled from that poll many times to put together shows. One was “Fortune Cookie,” in which several dozen artists created work prompted by a message delivered on the kind of small paper strip one might find in a Chinese after-dinner treat. There were human and animal versions of the surrealist game Exquisite Corpse, in which one person draws a head on a piece of paper folded into four horizontal sections, then the next draws the shoulders and torso without seeing what the first drew, and the next the waist to the knees, and the fourth finishing up with the lower legs and feet.
Other memorable collaborations include “Silverspot,” a graphic novel created by 50 or so artists, each of whom illustrated a page or passage from the 1898 book of the same title about a crow by E.T. Seton, and “25 Fables: Aesop’s Animals Illustrated.”
At the same time she worked on her own art, enjoying her first solo show in 1996 with “Home,” a collection of eerie and cozy photos of tiny tableaux created with doll houses and other miniatures. Minton has shown her work in Jackson almost every year since then, as well as elsewhere around Wyoming, including at the University of Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie, the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper and the Ucross Foundation in Ucross. Her work also has shown in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Denver, Wichita, Kansas, New York City and Brooklyn.
As a member of the valley’s and the state’s arts community, Minton has served as a board member of the Cultural Council of Jackson Hole, a juror for Jackson Hole Public Art and the Art Association, a member of the St. John’s Hospital Foundation’s art committee and, since 2019, a board member for the Center for the Arts.
For 13 years she worked at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, first as the adult education coordinator. In that role she worked on such projects as “Picasso meets Buffon,” a theatrical production she co-wrote, performed in and directed in a museum gallery, and the Sense of Place Dance Festival, which brought choreographers and dancers into the museum to create works to accompany visitors’ walks through galleries.
In 2009 she became assistant curator of art at the museum, and in 2014 was named associate curator of art and research, a position she held until 2017, when she moved on to the Art Association.
Goicoechea notes that all of those experiences have made Minton an “authentic” leader and perhaps the only person in the valley prepared to run the Art Association after Stewart’s long, strong run as executive director, followed by a few interim directors.
“Organizations that have authentic leadership in the mission and the work of the organization are the healthiest, the most vital organizations,” she said. “Part of the reason it was so easy to write a nomination about Bronwyn is not only is she an artist and a curator and a creator, but there’s this beautiful truth that she is now in this leadership role, in this authentic space. … She could teach any class, she participates as an artist or a staff member, does the gallery shows, knows all the inventory in the store. … That’s not true in other organizations, where the person in the leadership role could do any job probably better than any of us, and knows every layer of the mission and the work.”
“I’m obsessed with all of the mediums,” Minton said. “That’s what I think is real fun [about the Art Association] is that there are so many mediums that we can have people work in. We have 10,000 square feet here, most of it classroom. We take up the most space [in the Center for the Arts]. What’s also really cool is in the past few years the studios have become really functional — tidy, clean, the team that we have right now is so into it.”
All of which, she said with pride, is in service to the organization’s mission to support the community.
“Over this time that I have been ED, what keeps surfacing to me is, because of all the other things that are happening in our community, I feel like this organization needs to come back in and concentrate on community. People are having a hard time finding places to live. They also need to make things, and I want to be able to support our professionals and every other maker in the gallery and the art fair. … What does our community need and can we do that for them? And if there’s something that we’re not doing, if it fits in our missions, I’d like to be able to think about it, to be able to support the members of our community.”
Jackson Hole’s Off Square Theater Company is another recipient of 2021 Governor’s Arts Award. That nonprofit will be profiled in an upcoming edition. ￼