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Concert on the Prairie, ‘Bison, Bison, Bison’ art exhibit at Neal Smith NWR

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 11:41 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 11, 2013 11:48 a.m. CDT

The Friends of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge are hosting a Concert on the Prairie and art exhibit from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 7.

The evening will open with a concert performed by the Des Moines Community Orchestra followed by a special opening preview of Michael Wilson’s art exhibit, “Bison, Bison, Bison.” The evening will wind down with stargazing with the Des Moines Astronomical Society.

The Des Moines Community Orchestra will perform a one-hour outdoor concert at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, located five miles southwest of Prairie City. Attendees will relax, eat and listen to beautiful strains of music while enjoying the view of the bison herd roaming across the tallgrass prairie. The concert is scheduled rain or shine and will begin with a few words from former Congressman Neal Smith as he welcomes attendees to the place named for him.

Artist Michael Wilson of Urbandale began photographing the bison at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in the spring of 2012. He made more than 40 trips from his home in Urbandale and took over 5,000 photographs of the bison through the four seasons of the year. Using his photographs as references, he created 24 unique oil paintings that exclusively depict the refuge’s bison in all seasons and stages of life within a single year. Paintings will be on display and for sale during the event.

Wilson wanted the exhibit to benefit the refuge in some way. In June of 2012, Wilson met with the Refuge’s non-profit group The Friends of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge and proposed an outdoor concert with a special opening preview of the art exhibit. His proposal included celebrating the 20th anniversary of the formation of the Friends by welcoming the public to this wonderful and unique prairie restoration. By offering a one year membership for the price of admission, the Friends hope to gain support for the refuge and its mission.

The ticket price is $50 which includes admittance to Concert on the Prairie and a special preview of the exhibit “Bison, Bison, Bison.” Also included is a complimentary art card (limited edition printing of an image from the art exhibit, free wine tasting, star gazing after the concert and a one-year membership to The Friends of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. Space is limited. RSVP by May 15. Additional information and RSVP information can be found at www.tallgrass.org.  For specific information, contact the Friends president Joan Van Gorp at (515) 994-2918 or jvangorp@mediacombb.net or Michael Wilson at (515) 402-0921 or mwilson6862@gmail.com.

Friends of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge are a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code.  Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

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