2016 Governor's Arts Awards Include Posthumous Recognition For Arts Patron

Dec 12, 2016

Four recipients of the 2016 Governor’s Arts Awards have been announced. Two recipients are from Jackson: author, art historian, and curator Adam Duncan Harris, and arts advocate Tim Sandlin. Marianne Vinich is a visual artist and art teacher from Lander.

And a posthumous award has been given to Forrest Mars, Jr., the Mars candy bar heir and arts patron from Big Horn who died last July at age 84.

Mars spent $16 million of his fortune to fund the new Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Building at the Brinton Museum. Alongside Western art, the museum now houses a major collection of American Indian artifacts that originated in the Big Horn area.  

As he told Wyoming Public Radio in 2015, Mars’ interest was piqued when he heard the collection of artifacts was mothballed in Chicago. “Why are they in Chicago? Can we get them back? Because that’s why we built it. It was to bring them home,” he said.

Credit Jenae Neeson

The state-of-the-art facility opened in 2015 and allows the collection to be stored and displayed at the Brinton Museum in Big Horn. Mars also helped fund the expansion of the WYO Theater in Sheridan, which included the construction of the Mars Theater, a black box theater.

The Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony is scheduled for February 3 in Cheyenne.