October 17 to the 19th is the week-end for this year’s ‘Follow the Rails Art Trail’ tour on the 272 miles of Nebraska Highway 2 from Grand Island to Alliance which is known as the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway. (SJSB)
The grass-roots volunteers of the SJSB have been promoting this region as a tourism destination since Governor Johannes designated nine scenic byways, the SJSB among them, October, 1999.
Tourism may be the third largest earner of revenue outside the state after agriculture and manufacturing, but here in the heart of the state, it is the second. The economic impact of the arts alone across Nebraska is $174 million (according to the Art & Economic Prosperity/V study, released June 12, 2012)
To provide a positive economic impact and to highlight the multitude of artistic talent along the SJSB, is why this week-end dedicated to the arts was organized. 2014 is the fourth year for this self-guided art tour. Travel at your own pace, stopping to enjoy shopping, good food or just the amazing fall foliage –which is the scenic, natural art not touched by man as well as the amazing man-made art in the form of paintings, drawings, photography, sculptures in bronze and metal, pottery and fabric to name a few.
Communities and sites that will welcome you include:
Grand Island – Bartenbach’s Gallery – 209 N. Locust St. 308-382-7575. As Stuhr Museum is being renovated, this site includes some of the art from Stuhr. Prairie Winds Art Gallery – 112 West 3rd St, 308-381-4001
Mason City – The French Table has moved from Broken Bow to Mason City – 594 Main, 308-732-3227. This eclectic shop has many distinct offerings in the old church being renovated by owner, Lisa Moody.
Broken Bow – If coming from the east to west, stop first at the SJSB Visitor’s Center (Red Barn), or stop last if you are going the other direction. When downtown, park on the square and look for the signs at five other sites on the tour. On the south side is Chapin’s Furniture – they have a myriad of art for the home amidst their furniture and appliances as well as jewelry. West side of the square is Custer Co. Historical Society Museum which has fabric art in the form of quilts on display the whole month of October, as well as the prints of Solomon Butcher, a pioneer photographer of the area. Sunday at 1:30 Yvonne Hollenbeck, NE Humanities speaker will present.
From the museum, walk less than 50 yards north to Ortello Dale, new to the tour and to the town of Broken Bow.
Walk around the corner west of the Museum and enjoy the offerings of the Prairie Grounds Café and Gifts; art in the visual and culinary are offered here. Across the street, south, is the home of the Wild Rose Gallery. Over a dozen artists have works here, several of them have works elsewhere at other sites on the tour. The WRG is hosting a watercolor workshop by Utah artist, Lester Lee on Friday, the 17 and Saturday the 18th. Cost is $100 for the two days, or $65 for one day. Limit to the first 20. Call 308-872 6345.
Merna - new to the tour is the studio of Gary and Beth Cole, both are photographers but also Gary has created metal art, both framed and sculpture while Beth has paintings on display.
Thedford – Thedford Art Gallery downtown Thedford has their ‘Follow the Rails Art’ Show up in the Kiewitt Room the whole month of October. Call Terri at 308-645-2436 if you wish to make an appointment to see the gallery other days.
Seneca – Coming down the hill, one can either first turn left to visit with author Nancy Isom at the old gas station, 308-760-3730 or cross the railroad tracks and then turn left, to drive to the Northern Plains studio of Jackie Sevier, 308-639-3227 where her Native American culture is seen in her art. Nancy will be signing her two books “A Name to Remember” and her latest “The Elements of Death”. Both ladies are open Friday and Saturday, but they ask for appointments be called in for Sunday.
Mullen – the Lariat Auditorium, south of the highway. Several artists have works on display here, 308-546-0636. The photos entered in the SJSB’s photo contest that was completed September 1st will be on display here. They have been judged and winners will be announced at the October SJSB meeting in Halsey Oct. 8th.
Ashby – CaLinda’s Pot Shop and Art Gallery, 308-577-6766. Take time to ‘throw’ a pot with artist/owner, Linda Lacy and get your artistic juices flowing! Call in advance to set up a time as extra time is needed to interact with the artist. Other artists will also have their works here.
Alliance – Carnegie Arts Center, 204 4th West St., 308-762-4571, again several artists are showing here. New to the tour in Alliance is Steph’s Art Studio, 210 Box Butte Ave., 308-762-7655. Art from Box Butte Art Society will be on display besides Stephanie’s photography, stamping supplies and cards.
At each site, have your guidebook signed and then submit it to be in the drawings for two gift baskets.
We invite you to get on board ‘The Follow the Rails Art Trail’ tour and enjoy this unique week-end dedicated to the arts, October 17 to 19th on the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, NE highway 2. You will then realize more than ever that indeed “The earth without art is just eh.”