About Visual Arts: Summer 2019
Gomez, Czelsi

About Visual Arts: Summer 2019

Bobbie  McKibbin: The Yellowstone Series

Through July 6 at Radius Gallery, Missoula

Artist’s website: bobbiemckibbin.com

Master pastel artist Bobbie McKibbin has been toiling over an ambitious new body of work based on her love for, and repeated visits to, Yellowstone National Park. Her new studio works are on display at Radius Gallery in Missoula through July 6.

McKibbin’s new drawings are based on images gathered last year when she took part in the Yellowstone Forever Invitational Plein Air event in 2018, where she was awarded one of the coveted ribbons for Excellence in the Arts. She’s been sharpening her chalks for another Yellowstone trip this September as one of 16 artists invited to participate in this unique opportunity in the internationally celebrated park. 

The mystery and tenuous beauty of Yellowstone puts McKibbin in her element – recording the often overlooked and fleeting moments of natural phenomena. 

McKibbin taught art-making at Grinnell College in central Iowa for 31 years and now lives in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, where she continues to depict, document and illuminate the landscapes that surround her. She has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and her artwork has been collected by the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution, the Des Moines Art Center, and the Missoula Art Museum.


Lynn Cain, Raising Cain Studio

Through July at Gallery 16 in Great Falls

Artist’s website: lynncainart.com

“Few things are as satisfying to me as creating a moment in time for someone else to enjoy,” writes artist Lynn Cain. “Striving to find the essence, the mood, and the story behind my inner vision is what drives my desire to create art.”

Born and raised in Townsend, he witnessed Montana’s ranching, farming and mining lifestyles first hand. “This dramatic, sometimes harsh, but always beautiful landscape, its wildlife, and the people who work and play here inspire the stories I create with pencil, paint and clay,” he writes.

Cain’s favorite medium is graphite. He deploys a handful of drafting pencils to create complex images. “Graphite reveals emotional qualities from subject matter in a very subtle way,” he writes. He believes these gray-scale images can offer “a more intimate view of the world around us, without the distraction of color.”

The artist’s work has been featured in Southwest Art, Western Art Collector and Studio Visit magazines. He was a contest winner in Studio Visit magazine and was selected twice as a staff favorite in the Bold Brush contest of Fine Art Studio Online. Cain has also been the featured artist at art shows in Virginia City, Great Falls, Townsend and Cheyenne, WY. 


Nicole Keintz, “Unlimited: Healing Light”             

June 28-July 27 at the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell

Artist’s website: www.nicolekeintzphotography.com

Helena artist Nicole Keintz created the photography in this exhibit after her second brain surgery in August 2016, capturing each image at sunrise, using a slow shutter speed and intentional camera movement. As she brought a work of art to life, she was bringing herself back to life too.

Keintz fell in love with photography after graduating from high school. She found the courage to follow her passion after having surgery to remove a benign brain tumor in 2009. With a renewed appreciation for life, she worked hard at her craft, and her career was just starting to take off when a check-up MRI in May 2016 revealed that the tumor had grown back. She had surgery again and faced another long recovery.

The surgeries robbed her of 25% of her eyesight and caused many physical and cognitive challenges, including seizures. Keintz continued to create during her recovery and credits her art as an essential ally on her path to wellness.

Keintz recently embarked on the next step of her journey as the co-creator and director of the Holter Museum of Art’s new Healing Arts Program, which partners with local healthcare organizations to bring artwork and free art activities into the patient-care environment. Keintz says she’s excited to share her experiences, positivity and the healing power of art with those who need it most.


Carol Hartman, “Defying the Odds”

Aug. 1-31 at MonDak Heritage Center in Sidney

Artist’s website: www.carolhartman.biz

Large, colorful oil landscape paintings by Carol Hartman depict the overland and waterway trails taken by settlers of the MonDak region of Eastern Montana. “I am quite proud of the early history of the region and of the many pioneers involved in its development,” says Hartman, who was born and raised in Sidney. “This exhibition is created to honor that history and that incredibly beautiful and remote landscape.”

The artist received her formal art training from Montana State University in Bozeman and California State University, Fresno. After teaching at CSU and exhibiting both nationally and internationally for many years, she returned to Montana 10 years ago to paint full time.

She has spent the last few years searching for various overland and steamboat trails that Montana settlers used more than a century ago. She took a painting excursion in May and June along the Oregon Trail from western Wyoming to Independence, MO, where she attended the Paul Artspace artist residency, and returned along the Missouri River to Fort Union.

Hartman says her recent purchase and retrofitting of a camper trailer enables her to camp next to significant markers along the route, wake up early in the morning, and paint as the sun spreads across the landscape.

“We are but passing pages in the history of this land,” says Hartman. “Pockets of memories made while growing up in rural Montana provide a critical connection to the past.”


Heidi Marie Faessel: Sensing the Wild

Aug. 1-31 at Walking Man Frame Shop and Gallery in Whitefish

Artist’s website: www.heidimariefaessel.com

Heidi Marie Faessel’s organic abstractions weave together her background in textile and graphic design with her passion for nature and her deep curiosity about the experience of life.

“I see the world we live in, filled with mystery, magic and higher intelligence. My work is born from this place of deep reverence,” says the Whitefish artist. By synthesizing organic shapes, energetic brushwork, expressive line and movement, she strives to “reflect the life-force energy that I experience in nature.”

Faessel unites experimentation, imperfection and exploration with deliberate editing. “I am driven by the spirit of discovery and find deep satisfaction and unlimited potential in the creative process.”

She grew up in Southern California and lived in New York City for a decade, where she earned a BFA in textile/surface design from the Fashion Institute of Technology/SUNY, graduating Magna Cum Laude.  

Since moving to Montana in 2002, she has continued her education, studying a diverse range of visual arts. Locally, she attended the graphic design program at Flathead Valley Community College, and studied with Hamilton artist Pamela Caughey. 

For many years, she has worked professionally as an independent designer in Whitefish, helping local businesses develop their branding and marketing materials. Currently, she is transitioning to a career in fine art and has shown her work in Whitefish and Missoula galleries. 


Ann Franke, “More Than Words”

Sept. 1-30 at the Artists’ Shop in Missoula

Artist’s website: annfranke.com

Ann Franke was introduced to the lettering arts 32 years ago while studying graphic design in college and was immediately hooked. She continues to study with many national and international calligraphers.

“There is so much to explore in the world of contemporary calligraphy – creating new letterform variations and experimenting with different writing tools, mediums and surfaces,” she says.

Her exhibit at the Artists’ Shop showcases contemporary calligraphic
artwork using ink, gouache and watercolor on a variety of papers and fabric.

“When I tell people I’m a calligrapher, a common response is ‘Isn’t that a dying art?’” says Franke. “Quite the contrary – lettering artists all over the world are passionately creating unique, modern works of fine art based on the letters of the alphabet.” 

Franke strives to make her own lettering feel traditional and contemporary at the same time. When designing her work she may combine lettering with illustrations or painterly backgrounds or make a collage. She letters mainly with metal pen nibs, flat and pointed brushes, and occasionally basket reed and balsam wood.

Her work has appeared in exhibitions in Missoula, Helena, Butte and Billings. She also offers calligraphy and hand-lettering services for private and commercial purposes, teaches calligraphy classes and produces work for retail sale.


– Compiled by Kristi Niemeyer


(Photos): “Yellowstone Steaming Pool, Orange” by Bobbie McKibbin, “Boiling Point” by Lynn Cain, “Beyond”by Nicole Keintz, “Lone Guardian of the Pass” by Carol Hartman, “Red Rain” by Heidi Faessel, “Patience” by Ann Franke




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