New art center opens with an outpouring of community support

About a hundred men, women and children of all ages braved subzero temperatures on Saturday to check out the new My Studio design center located on Lane 12,

Eagerly anticipating the cutting of the ribbon officially opening the new My Studio business on Lane 12 are (l-r) , Jack Carpenter, Cameron Carpenter, Ryan Mangus, Jill Carpenter with Hugh Carpenter doing the snipping, Quin Carpenter, Daisy Carpenter, Maci Lucht, Tessa Watson and chamber president Joseph Shumway.
David Peck photo

west of North Big Horn Hospital.

The new business, owned and operated by Jack and Jill Carpenter, offers classes in cooking and art in a relaxed, family friendly atmosphere. The Carpenters said they created the new business because they enjoy being surrounded by creative people and they felt there was a need in the community for a relatively inexpensive, convenient outlet for creative activities that could potentially bring together a wide range of people.

“The idea is to come, connect and create,” explained Jill. “We wanted to create a space where families could come together and truly feel connected with each other and with other people in the community.”

“This is not just about creating art, it’s about creating connectivity,” said Jack. “We felt this is lacking in the community and we wanted to create an outlet for that.”

The couple began their hands-on renovation of a garden shed/chicken coop on their property in July and finished the elaborate renovation just in time for the grand opening on Saturday.

“We wanted to have it done in September around the time school started, but it didn’t work out that way,” said Jill. “We were literally setting up tables in here around the time the first people were arriving for the open house.”

The Carpenters did much of the labor themselves, with the help of friends and their own four children. The facility includes a complete kitchen, kilns for firing pottery and ceramics, tables and counters for art projects, a restroom and area to purchase soft drinks and snacks.

Trained chefs, Sam Wright and Shelly McCracken, will conduct the cooking classes. Jack and Jill explained that the cooking classes are designed to “expand the palate of the community,” with classes offering the instruction for some of the most basic kitchen procedures, like chopping, dicing or preparing a poached egg to more exotic fare, like preparing sushi.

According to a biography provided on the center’s website, Wright was trained in London as a chef with Roux restaurants, at le Gamin, le Gavroche (a 3 Michelin star

The Dickson family, (l-r) KinCaid, Russell, Victoria and Alexandra, enjoy a craft project along with many others who attended the open house for My Studio, a family friendly new art place on Lane 12 near Lovell.
Patti Carpenter photo

restaurant), Boucherie la Martine, the patisserie and Rothschild’s Bank.  She ran a private catering company with clients including the BBC and Johnson and Johnson.  She later ran the executive kitchen for Brockbank-a Lloyd’s of London syndicate-before moving to Wyoming to cook at a cow camp.

Although her training is in classic French cuisine, she enjoys cooking food from many different cultures and hopes to bring some fun cooking classes to My Studio.

Chef McCracken grew up in the kitchen with her mother.  She baked her first cake by herself when she was 7 and it was the beginning of a lifelong love of cooking.  She took every home economics class that was offered and became well-known for her excellent dishes.

McCracken served in the United States Air Force for 20 years, retiring as a captain. When she retired, she used her GI Bill to attend the Montana State University Culinary Arts Program, where she expanded her knowledge of cooking and presentation. She has also lived in Germany and France and has experience with foreign cuisine preparation.

Maci Lucht and Tessa Watson are also on staff. Both are trained artists offering assistance to all levels of artists attending the center’s programs.

Jack Carpenter, a trained potter, is also offering limited instruction. The center has two potting wheels and a number of kilns for use by potters.

The center is also available for parties and special functions and on a drop-in basis from 1 to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information go to

By Patti Carpenter