“Art is never personal. You may make it because you like it, but you’re either gonna put in a closet or send it out into the world. This is a place where the world can come see it.”
Walking into the Cowboy Carousel Center is a striking experience. Found just off the main street, the understated exterior does no justice for the open, wonderfully curated design within. You are at once greeted with a spacious gallery area, high ceilings, and a general feeling of purpose. When we visited the Carousel recently, the walls were draped with expressive portraits of Native American Pow Wow dancers, dressed in colorful, traditional garb. Some were of families, laughing and smiling, and others of a single man or woman, gazing directly into the camera with expressions of indeterminate emotion. Ben Mara, a Seattle-based photographer took the photos, as part of his own 20-year tradition. Ben has traveled all over the United States and Canada taking Pow Wow portraits and has a book of his work now in its seventh edition. Many local tribes in Montana and Wyoming are featured prominently in the show. “What struck me most,” said Arnette Tiller, president of the board of Arts Along the Bighorns, the non-profit that owns the Center,“Is how prominently the family is shown. A lot of people think of the Pow Wows as these warrior types, but the entire family from infants to grandparents participate.”
Tiller is an artist herself, holding a degree in Art from the University of Wyoming and working mostly as a sculptor. She and her organization came to own the Carousel Center back in 2012, and with the building came a dream. “Our hope is that the Carousel Center becomes a permanent fixture in Buffalo. We’ve got plans to expand and remodel a bit, so hopefully, we’ll actually have the Carousel here shortly. We want this to be a place where you can come look at art, take a class, watch a movie, or hold an event.” The building surely seems up to the challenge, and Arnette is fully dedicated to her vision. The arts are a ubiquitous factor of Tiller’s own life, and she hopes to bring their influence to Buffalo in a more palpable way, especially for aspiring artists. “We hope the Center serves to expand horizons for the youth of Buffalo. They may go to class and draw, or sculpt, and have a real propensity for that, but then they don’t know what can be achieved after that. The Cowboy Carousel Center will serve as a support system for them.” The Center is certainly a very promising offer for the residents of Buffalo, and we wish Annette and her association the best of luck going forward.
— Herd & Scene