Friday, August 10, 2012

An Art Design & Dine Date Night in Cheyenne

“Wanna dance?” Chris asked.

“I looked at her. “I haven’t had a beer yet.”

“It’s a slow song, one that you like.”

She had me there. It was “Masquerade” by Leon Russell. Keith “Boxcar” Blaney was doing a great job with it on the stage inside the Hynds Building.

“And we’re the only ones here.” Chris gestured around the room. We were the only audience members at the moment on this Art Design and Dine Artwalk Thursday. So nobody would be watching my geeky dance floor moves.

But while I was pondering the dance, a trio of young women wandered in and, while they helped themselves to some lemonade and cookies, Keith wrapped up the song.

“Darn,” I said.

“Procrastinator.” Chris gave me the evil eye. She stood. “Time to move on.”

She was right. I’d enjoyed Keith’s repertoire of Beatles, Keb Mo and Leon Russell. But we had other stops to make. It was date night and there was no time to waste. We were prowling around downtown, hitting those ADD venues we hadn’t seen before. We’d been to the Hynds for art shows but had never seen Keith perform.

Earlier, our first stop had been The Ancient Sage on the corner of 18th and Capitol. It features handmade products by local artists and Fair Trade artisans. There are books on natural healing and racks filled with herbal remedies. Proprietors Lisa Marie and Jody had filled a table with veggies and fruit and boxes of wine. I snacked and talked to Lisa Marie about her role as a medium/clairvoyant. She spoke of “cleaning” homes of unwanted spirits, about how she can sense their presence. An odd sort of gift to have. 

Out front, BeatGrass, an up-and-coming Cheyenne bluegrass band, warmed up. Some police cruisers appeared on Capitol Avenue, the advance guard for a parade of Senior Olympians in Cheyenne to compete for the gold. A group of 100 or so senior athletes were led by the Cheyenne Pipe Band. Parade Marshal Kenny Sailors cruised down the street in the back of an old convertible. Kenny is credited with bringing the jump shot to college basketball when he played for UW in the 1940s and led his team to the NCAA tournament.

When the sounds of pipes and drums faded into the distance, BeatGrass performed some bluegrass standards and a few unexpected tunes, such as “The Breeze” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. I hadn’t seen BeatGrass perform, although they’ve had a busy summer playing at bars, the Atlas Theatre and the American Legion. They are good musicians and a lot of fun to watch.

Chris and I had no preconceived notions for the evening. We like doing things together. We had been pleasantly surprised by the music and the parade. In the distance, we could hear the strains of “Ghost Riders in the Sky” coming from a band playing for the senior athletes at the Depot. Here on the corner, while BeatGrass played, a girl twirled her hula-hoop and a skateboarder rolled up on a long board. The Cheyenne Trolley rolled up and the people gazed out the window at the street spectacle, as if it were an everyday occurrence here in the Capital City.

Our next stop was Studio 17. We looked at photography by proprietor Dana Gage and talented local Briana Barber. Dana showed off one of Briana’s framed portraits, a larger than life image of a local street person. The man’s face bore the marks of a hard-knock life. Briana’s specialty is street scenes of Cheyenne, but she also shoots flowers and Wyoming’s big sky. Dana has some incredible landscapes in the studio. He let me have two hand-painted tiles left behind several months ago by a street artist who never returned for them. Very odd and colorful pieces.

"The Tivolism," photo by Briana Barber at Studio 17. The Tivoli
is the home of Freedom's Edge Brewing Company.
Our next stop was Freedom’s Edge Brewing Company at the Tivoli. It was not a part of the ADD Artwalk but its beers are a work of art. Freedom’s Edge opened in March but I’d never been inside to quaff a pint. But that was remedied when I sat down with a pint of Frontier Daze IPA and Chris ordered up a Strawberry Blonde Ale. The interior is a combination of Old West and 2012 craft brewery. There’s an outdoor beer garden that opened for Frontier Days and looks like a great way to while away a summer evening. Freedom’s Edge is bottling their beers. You can take home a monster of its limited edition stout or a growler of any of its other beers. But Chris and I halted at one. It was getting late and we needed to eat.

Our last stop was the Morris House Bistro patio on Warren Avenue. No tables were available so we hung out and talked to some old friends as they wrapped up their dinner. Morris House is friendly that way – we always see someone we know. It was bustling on this August Thursday night. Chris and I split an order of crab cakes. She ate marlin and black rice while I had shrimp and grits and collard greens. Some friends wandered in and joined us for dessert. When I went inside to use the facilities, I saw that all the tables were filled. I heard some southern drawls and a foreign accent that I couldn’t place. We later heard from the manager that there were lots of out-of-town visitors who are referred to the bistro by I don’t know the site but our friends use it when they travel. Apparently it’s a great way to find good food and cool places to stay. It’s terrific to see that MHB, open only a year, is becoming the place to eat in Cheyenne. (I checked out TripAdvisor and Morris House is the top-rated Cheyenne restaurant out of 86 choices.)

We closed down Morris House and headed home. Chris wanted to keep the night alive so we sat out on our back porch and watched the lightning light up the eastern sky. The night’s breeze carried a promise of rain but it fell only on our friends in Burns and Pine Bluffs or maybe nowhere at all. Teased again. But we went to bed with the promise of rain in our heads. That’s about all that we’ve had this summer – teased by rain but delivered once again into the dry hands of drought. But on this night, I didn’t care.

The Art Design & Dine Intown Art Tour takes place the second Thursday of the month, 5-8 p.m., April through December, at various Cheyenne venues. Get more info at

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