When you travel Brinton Road through Big Horn on either the lower lane or the upper road, time slows down.
Rolling fields and meadows, cattle and horses, here and there, the ever-spectacular views of the majestic Bighorns keep the mind taking a breath.
The first sight of the Brinton Museum before entering the property is the stable built by Bradford Brinton for his thoroughbreds. It sits just north of scenic Little Goose Creek.
Once on the museum grounds, Little Goose Creek Lodge and the historic ranch is on the right, and up the hill is the Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Building. Find a parking space, buckle up your shoes, and make sure to check in at reception for tours.
You are a visitor to lands that were once the lands of the Apsáalooke, Cheyenne, Tsitsistas and So’taeo’o, Lakota and Arapaho. It was the Scotsman William Moncreiffe in 1892 who created the Quarter Circle Ă Ranch and the brand. It was Bradford Brinton who in 1923 purchased the headquarters of Quarter Circle Ă, 640 acres, which today includes the Brinton Museum.
There is a lot to take. People. The story. Earth. In short, this is the very essence of Brinton: to preserve and interpret the art and history of people and the land, bringing them to life through exhibitions and educational programs.
Northern Arapaho artist Robert Martinez de Riverton is featured in a solo exhibition of his vibrant paintings and ledger drawings in the Jacomien Mars Reception Gallery. Martinez uses historical references to create a contemporary statement in art. A founding member of the Creative Indigenous Collective, he is a voice for the promotion and expansion of our knowledge of Indigenous art and artists.
Martinez was born on the Wind River Reservation and is a recipient of the prestigious Governor’s Arts Award 2019. His work blends Indigenous inspiration and history with modern culture to create portraits such as “Hello Cowboy,” a drawing of a native cowboy holding Hello Kitty cell phone to take a selfie. “The Art of Robert Martinez” continues at the Brinton until Labor Day.
If you’re lucky enough to be at the museum on July 17, you can catch the Crow American Indian Parade that Saturday. Six members of the Apsáalooke (Crow) nation will dress in ceremonial costume with six horses to parade through Brinton Field. The parade route begins at the stable and ends at the Helen Brinton Education Pavilion. Crow member Mardell Plainfeather will present a program on the beauty of Native American Crow adornment and the long tradition of the Crow parade of the Apsáalooke people.
In 1951, Crow Tribe member Lucy Yellowmule made history when she became the first Native American Queen of the Sheridan WYO Rodeo. It was, as they say, a “very big deal”. She was 16 years old. Lucy and her wonderful white horse opened the door to the first All-American Indian Day and the Miss Indian America National Pageant, which took place in 1953.
The legacy of his extraordinary achievement and its impact on those who followed helped bridge the racial divide between Native Americans and the Sheridan community. On July 14 of this year, an American Indian Days commemorative event will be held at the Brinton Museum.
The allure of the land – the beauty of the West – is at the center of the Bighorn Rendezvous art exhibition – from July 10 to August 21 – which features the works of 12 nationally recognized artists from the region and from elsewhere. Like so many accomplished artists drawn to the region for its magnificence, the tradition of painting Western scenes and landscapes will continue as long as the artists paint and sculpt. Don’t miss Bighorn Rendezvous Quickdraw on August 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This is your chance to wander the property and chat with artists working on their easels, painting outdoors.
And who can say, maybe as you stroll through the Quarter Circle Gardens Ă the whisper of the wind will tell of cowboys who once rode the foothills on tired horses, calling on the longhorns to stun and move. Or maybe the gentle rustling of leaves in the tall poplars will speak of the Crows and Cheyenne that once lived on these lands.
Or maybe you will simply find that art and history enrich the mind and are good for the soul.
Barbara mcnab is curator of the Brinton Museum in Big Horn.