One of a Kind
61st Year of Gallery of Art and Faith
A One of a Kind Christmas Journey
Hemingford, Nebraska is home to a “One of a Kind” Art collection displayed for two months each year in November and December. The exquisite and ever-changing artwork has continued to grow for 61 years, and takes a viewer on a journey that is indeed magical! Unique may also be a good way to describe the efforts of diverse individuals and groups to keep the artwork in good condition and to display it each year.
When the Reverend William James Hoare and the parishioners of the Hemingford Congregational Church – United Church of Christ started the project in 1955, just three scenes from the bible were constructed and painted, first on canvas, and now on plywood. First displayed downtown and now at the Fairgrounds, The good Reverend and many residents of Hemingford since have worked together over the years to put themselves into the paint that covers the scenery and figures.
Just as our busy lives seem to be taking us away from each other, this huge project has brought together young and old, artists and scholars, students in Hemingford, and students south of Chadron, to remind everyone where we came from, and where we will someday go. The art is beautiful, the history is rich, the short time spent to see it this season so very meaningful.
Thank you to the Box Butte County Ag Society for hosting the annual display from Thanksgiving through Christmas each year at the local fairgrounds. Thank you to Mrs. Marla Wade and her World Stride Art students at Hemingford High School for creating and re-creating the scenes and figures over the past decades. Thank you to the Chadron Job Corp Center for taking over the huge chore of erecting the 16 large scenes along the paved path at the Fairgrounds. Thank you to Hemingford High School Ag students for setting up the over 150 painted figures each year that stand in front of the many scenes.
Thank you to all those who chaired Diorama set-up committees in the past before the Job Corp students took over, and thanks especially to Hemingford resident Sally Minich and the Minich family for being responsible for the growth and success the display has had over the past several years. Their artistry and time has been such a blessing. As mentioned earlier, Marla Wade is one of a kind, just as Sally Minich is. Thank you so much ladies!
This Christmas Season – Open Your Heart
The display is on the west edge of Hemingford on Highway 2, is lit at night, and is accompanied by seasonal music. Visitors may drive through a roped off street to see the work, or may stop and walk past the glorious artwork. There are a few figures just re-painted that have truly heavenly faces that touch a person’s soul.
Though there are pictures of the entire display accompanying this article, please bring your own camera or smartphone to save a piece of history for yourself.
Anyone passing through Hemingford, or anyone reading this article should make a SPECIAL trip to this one of a kind display. These scenes and figures have over 60 years of local talent mixed in their colors. To take a slow drive through, or to take a magical walk, especially as the soft snow is falling, is a Christmas season experience that will stay with you always.