A glowing, coppery Butte inferno, an eagle-eye view of Coal Banks Bend from a Virgelle bluff and a portrait of a 16-year-old Sacagawea.
These uniquely Montana-inspired images are just a few of the works in the Reimagine Montana exhibit on display at the Myrna Loy Center Jailhouse Gallery through Jan. 20.
This is a last chance to see the exhibit, which toured the state earlier this year, and will be dismantled after this show.
See how six artists celebrated five significant national historic sites in Montana during their 2016 visiting- artist residencies.
Montana Preservation Alliance executive director Chere Jiusto was the visionary spark behind “Reimagine Montana: National Parks, Historic Landmarks, Trails and Monuments Across Time.”
The project idea was “to host contemporary artists as residents for a month in locations formerly portrayed by well known artists,” Jiusto said. The artists walked in the steps of such renowned artists as Karl Bodmer, Thomas Hart Benton, Ansel Adams, John Fery and Native American traditional artists.
However each reimagined these places in distinctive new ways through their own vision and artworks.
The Reimagine Montana project received a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and National Park Service, both of which celebrated anniversaries in 2016. The goal of the grants was to celebrate the parks through the arts.
“It seemed a really beautiful way to commemorate these places that mean so much to all us and how they resonate with people,” said Jiusto in an earlier IR interview.
“We selected (artists) on the quality of their work and their affinity for the place,” said Jiusto.
“The artists were so talented,” said Jiusto. “We were just amazed at how strong the works are. They all loved being in these places.”
Artist David Burke of Oakland, California, created huge, glowing paintings of industrial mining scenes in Butte.
“David Burke already had an interest in industrial landscapes,” said Jiusto. "He was clearly inspired by the layers of history from the mining heritage of the city.”
He set up his studio in the Anselmo Mine yard’s hoist house in the heart of Butte’s mining history. “He did all his work in this gritty industrial building and you can see how that comes through in all his work,” she said.
Kit Frost took photos of some of the most iconic and powerful vistas of Glacier National Park. The Colorado photographer has served many visiting-artist residencies in the national parks and is known for her dramatic images of monumental landscapes.
Iconographer and artist Lewis Williams explored the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument through painting and woodcut prints.
“Lewis does a lot of plein-air painting,” said Jiusto.
The Colorado artist is also known for his explorations of “the landscape of sacred art.”
Native American artist DG House of Bozeman created a series of print-like, colorful paintings of not only the young Sacagawea but also of the wildlife.
She “immersed herself in the landscape, stories and wildlife of Travelers’ Rest,” said Jiusto, which was a site important to both Native people as a gathering place and was a campsite for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
And Helena multimedia artist Tim Holmes visited all five sites and gave a unifying perspective of them through his paintings.
“One thing I really responded to was the movement of the landscape,” said Holmes. “The landscape itself seems really alive.”
He recalls being particularly moved by his visit to Travelers’ Rest.
“It’s the only Lewis and Clark campsite they are sure they located,” he said. “It’s quite small. It’s an open field where you can imagine a group of people would camp. But I found it really exhilarating to walk around this campsite and know these people we all know about were in this very place. It was really astonishing for me.”
Reimagine Montana “changed me in a strange way,” he said. Although he’s lived in Montana since he was 10 years old, seeing some of these place was new.
And even places he thought he knew, he saw in a different way.
It also led to a whole series of social interactions he never would have had, such as a meeting with a Virgelle rancher that started out tense but turned into “an incredible history lesson” about the ranch.
“It seemed like a quintessential Montana experience to me,” Holmes said. “The whole summer was like that -- running into people I never would have encountered otherwise. They are a gift of the project.”
The Reimagine Montana exhibit “was a real eye opener -- to see how differently artists respond and see the same landscape,” he said.
It’s made him think, “Wow -- I want to go back and experience it after seeing this painting,” because it illuminates a certain quality of the place.
And that may very well be the reaction of many of those who view these works.
The exhibit is in the Myrna’s Jailhouse Gallery, 15 N. Ewing, which is free and open to the public, Monday-Friday noon-7 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday 2-7 p.m.