- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - Growing up in Southern California, Patrick Kikut was no stranger to the vast horizons belting across the rolling surf of the Pacific Ocean. Kikut, now a painter and University of Wyoming lecturer, finds a faint familiarity in the horizons of the High Plains.

His artwork featured in the “Western Traces” exhibit is an ode to the high plains, featuring sparse landscape paintings on canvases.

Kikut noticed an odd familiarity on the open range.

“It was like an ocean you could drive out onto,” he said. “On the other hand, it was really exotic because growing up in southern California, the culture is so much different than a small cafe culture in western Kansas. It was different, but oddly familiar.”

Kikut is a featured artist in the Ucross Foundation Art Gallery’s newest exhibit, “Western Traces.” As a Ucross artist-in residence, Kikut has spent multiple stints on the foundation’s more than 20,000-acre ranch, the Laramie Boomerang reported (http://tinyurl.com/k7cnnt8).

Ucross Foundation President Sharon Dynak said the foundation benefits from Kikut’s presence in Wyoming.

“In the gallery, we like to have some exhibitions that reflect on the large horizons, and Pat’s work really speaks to the vastness and power the land has. We’re honored to have him,” Dynak said.

Vivian Banks, a Wyoming native and director of outreach for the Ucross Foundation, said Kikut’s work brings attention to Wyoming landscapes that are often overlooked.

“I think personally what I love about Pat’s work, is that growing up in Wyoming, those are the pieces of scenery and landscape that make up this larger picture,” Banks said. “I think he’s done a beautiful job of capturing that which shouldn’t be forgotten. They are scenes that tug at our heartstrings and make up what the land in this region is. The way he portrays those very significant but overlooked scenes.”

Kikut also feels that scenes on the High Plains often go unnoticed as they drive Interstate 70, considering the drive monotonous as they hurry across the Plains to get to their destinations.

“People don’t look at them,” he said.

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Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com

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