The Ucross Foundation hosted its inaugural New York Gala & Awards Dinner last night at The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The night was filled with performances and readings by notable award-winning artists, all Ucross alumni, including Ricky Ian Gordon (Grapes of Wrath, opera), Steven Lutvak (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder), bestselling author Tayari Jones, author and Vanity Fair contributor Elissa Schappell, composer/pianist Dylan Mattingly, trumpeter Frank London, and singer-songwriter Kate Schutt. Special guests included Broadway stars Laura Benanti and Nancy Anderson. A collection of artwork from Ucross visual artist alumni was on display and available for purchase. The emcee was former journalist and current film and television screenwriter William “Bill” Broyles.
At the heart of the evening was the presentation of the Ucross Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts, which was presented to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx by the editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick. Proulx is widely recognized for many of her literary works, notably Brokeback Mountain, which was first published in The New Yorker in 1997. Remnick noted The New Yorker’s long history with Proulx stating, “It’s always been a privilege to publish Annie’s work in The New Yorker and it’s a privilege to take part in this ceremony tonight.”
In the early stages of her writing career, Ucross granted Proulx the solitude and inspiration to become a literary legend. She acknowledged the impact and continuing growth of the Ucross residency stating, “I have watched Ucross grow from a remote place that offered a few writers and artists shelter and solitude become a highly regarded and important resource for creative people: writers, painters, filmmakers, sculptures, all the rest. Ucross has developed real clout in the intellectual ethos of this country and beyond. What happens in this little corner of Wyoming matters to the way we all think, see and interpret the world and ultimately how we solve our problems.”
The evening began with a cocktail hour featuring a visual arts exhibit and sale by Ucross alumni. One of the paintings, by artist Pamela Talese, was presented as a gift to philanthropists Jesse and Cathy Marion, who received the Outstanding Patron of the Arts Award. All the works in the exhibit may be viewed here.
Philip Himberg, Artistic Director of the Sundance Institute Theatre Program was also honored last night with the Outstanding Creative Partnership Award for his years of collaboration with Ucross.
About Ucross Foundation
Located in northeast Wyoming in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, Ucross Foundation fosters the creative spirit of deeply committed artists and groups by providing uninterrupted time, studio space, living accommodations, and the experience of the majestic High Plains, while serving as a good steward of its 20,000-acre ranch. Residencies are awarded to nearly one hundred artists each year. Ten artists are in residence at one time, typically a mix of four visual artists, four writers and two composers.
Since its establishment in 1981, Ucross has provided over 2,000 residencies to writers, visual artists, and composers, including such distinguished fellows as Annie Proulx, Terry Tempest Williams, Colson Whitehead, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett, Ricky Ian Gordon, Bill Morrison, Theaster Gates, Anthony Hernandez, and recent Academy Award and Tony winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Other Ucross national partners include the Sundance Institute Theatre Program, the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, the Alliance of Artist Communities, and the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction. The Ucross Foundation Art Gallery is a significant cultural resource for surrounding communities and beyond. For further information, visit
Photo credit: Jared Siskin/PMC via Getty Images.
Article by Jason Gao