Barasso and Moro

Slade Elementary School Principal Heather Moro, left, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. stand in front of a mural showing the Slade Elementary School mascot. Laramie is known for its murals, especially downtown.

The Laramie Public Art Coalition recently announced a five-year gift from ConnectGen that will fund the coalition’s operational expenses.

ConnectGen is developing the Rail Tie Wind Project south of Laramie.

Laura McDermit, executive director of the coalition, said operational support is often hard to come by for small arts organizations, and the ConnectGen gift will free her organization to fully focus on supporting local art and artists.

“We will be able to have that baseline support for the next several years, which can potentially open us up to more fundraising for projects and to really do more work in the community,” she said.

Project manager Amanda MacDonald said in an email that ConnectGen aims to be a positive member of the communities where it builds renewable energy projects, and one way to do that is to support existing organizations.

In talks with community leaders, ConnectGen identified LPAC as an organization that had achieved a lot in the community with limited resources.

“In speaking with LPAC, we learned that their main limitation is human bandwidth, since they only have one part-time employee,” MacDonald said. “ConnectGen’s commitment will provide enough funding to bring that employee from part-time to full-time for the next five years, which will enable LPAC to pursue more projects and engage further with the community.”

The Laramie Public Art Coalition was founded in 2014 and works to enhance the culture and quality of life of Laramie and Albany County while engaging residents and visitors. The coalition provides paid opportunities for more than 30 artists a year.

McDermit said the coalition has a host of projects in the works, including a program to wrap utility boxes in decorative murals, the first of which should be appearing soon.

“We’re doing four boxes this year, and we hope to do a couple boxes every year for the next couple years,” she said.

The group also recently selected an artist to create a sculpture for the entrance to the city’s fire training facility, which sits near the intersection of U.S. Highway 287 and Interstate 80 and is undergoing a renovation.

“We just had a selection committee select an artist, who actually happens to be a firefighter with the Laramie Fire Department,” she said.

A team from Indianapolis is preparing an installation inspired by Laramie’s watershed to be displayed in the new north entrance to the Albany County Courthouse. The front desk of the Laramie Community Recreation Center will soon feature a mural by a local artist.

McDermit said she hopes to re-invigorate the Laramie Mural Project, which has engaged local artists in creating large-scale murals in the downtown district.

“There hasn’t been a mural downtown since 2018, and that’s something that is certainly on our radar — to raise money to do more murals downtown as well as restore some of the murals that are there” she said.

Big-picture, McDermit said she envisions LPAC increasing its capacity to facilitate creative, interesting projects that showcase Laramie’s unique culture and artists.

“We want to be the most dynamic public arts organization in the Mountain West,” she said.

In addition to supporting LPAC, ConnectGen has supported local organizations such as United Way, the Pilot Hill Project and the Cathedral Home, and sponsored local events like Laramie Jubilee Days and the Laramie Farmers Market. It started two annual scholarships, one for a graduating Albany County senior and one for an Albany County resident enrolled in the wind technician training program at Laramie County Community College.

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