About Visual Artists Spring 2019
Monica Thompson: “Take Care”
Through May 24 at Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art in Great Falls
Artist’s website: thimbleanddot.squarespace.com
Monica Thompson is a textile artist whose pieced and stitched hand-dyed creations, primarily on cotton and silk, combine imagery with her love of pattern and color. Often, there’s an inherent tension between subject matter and material.
She’s enthralled with the landscape and fauna of Montana, for example, and creates “a deliberate mismatch of themes punctuated by abundant color and rich pattern.”
Thompson lives and works in Missoula, where she also teaches elementary art in the Missoula County Public Schools.
She studied fibers and graphic design at the University of Michigan and textiles at the Penland School of Crafts in Penland, NC, where she was awarded the Edwina Bringle Scholarship for a student showing excellence in textiles.
Thompson has shown her work in solo and juried group exhibitions across Montana and the Northwest, including the Missoula Art Museum’s annual auction, the Zootown Art Community Center’s Mini Show, and the Montana MADE Fair.
“In my work, I am striving for order while simultaneously compelled to create chaos, resulting in tension and harmony between these two seemingly incongruous states of being,” she writes.
Inspired by the purity and austerity of Japanese textile processes, she seeks “to deconstruct and reassemble these ideas to reflect my midwestern upbringing.”
And in a Zen-like fashion, she often purposefully chooses impractical labors, “with the intention of instilling self-imposed purity in my process.”
KellyAnne Terry: “Elsewhere”
April 1-30 at the Lewistown Art Center, with a reception 5-7 p.m. April 5
Mixed-media artist KellyAnne Terry’s abstract paintings are grounded in a sense of place. Described as “a form of literary art,” these compositions reflect the past, far-flung destinations, discovery, and historic writings.
Working primarily in acrylic, the Lewistown artist uses vintage papers, antique ephemera and out-of-print books to tell a story in each of her pieces.
Terry grew up on a horse ranch in North Central Montana and finds fodder for her art in the natural world, travel, the sketchbooks and notebooks of early explorers and historic figures, flea markets, and most of all, the written word. She was a librarian for 10 years, and says close proximity to books at the Lewistown Public Library influenced her work. “We have a great local and western history collection, and I loved the old photos and handwritten works.”
She titled her show “Elsewhere” to invoke “a sense of travel, of being somewhere different, daydreaming, planning and creating, a hope for the future but also a reverence for the past.”
In addition to earning two master’s degrees – one in English literature and another in organizational leadership – Terry was awarded the Women Leading Montana Award in 2018 for her work in bringing a women’s leadership conference to Central Montana.
Not surprisingly, her work is often inspired by women, including Gertrude Bell, the great English woman explorer who mapped and negotiated the boundaries of Iraq in the 1920s, Isabelle Eberhardt, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Virginia Woolf, Lady Jane Franklin, Mary Shelley, “and all the explorers and early naturalists.”
She also writes essays and creative nonfiction and plans to launch a blog “on art, life and learning” this spring. She currently manages the historic Calvert Hotel, and her mixed-media works hang on its walls.
Nicole Stroman: “Aftermath”
Opening April 25 at the Holter Museum of Art in Helena
Artist’s Website: nicolestromanphotography.com
Helena photographer Nicole Stroman remembers when her niece was struggling and attempted to take her own life. “I took it very hard,” she recalls. “I felt so helpless.”
Her photography exhibit explores the aftermath of suicide in an attempt to show who it affects and foster awareness. “This project is my way of not feeling helpless.”
She points out that Montana has one of the highest suicide rates per capita in the nation. “Suicide is the second leading cause of death of our youth and yet it’s still a subject no one is really talking about,” she says.
Stroman teamed up with Jamie Eastwood, the founder of “Breathe, Let’s Start a Conversation,” a non-profit organization in Helena for suicide education and bereavement support. Together, they decided to sit down with individuals affected by suicide. “While they share their stories I photograph them in hopes of capturing the emotion behind their journeys.”
Stroman was born and raised in southern California and has lived in Helena for 10 years with her husband and two kids. She says she came to photography “later in life.”
“I started taking pictures of my kids as all moms do, loving to capture their cute expressions, and then I started to take pictures of friends, extended family and neighbors and I fell in love with it.” Now, as a professional photographer, she shoots “pretty much everything from real estate to high school seniors.”
But the artfulness of her work rests in candid moments and deeper expression. “My true passion is to go beyond the surface and take what some may think to be dark or hard to look at and create a photograph to make you feel something. We have many different parts that make up who we are and I truly believe they are all equally beautiful.”
Eric Ryan Simmons: “tiny voices”
May 1-30 at 4 Ravens Galley in Missoula with a First Friday opening reception 5-8 p.m. May 3
Sculptor Eric Ryan Simmons has a cheeky sense of humor. We glean from his bio that he “supposedly” earned an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, and is native to Missoula “if you don’t count the first 34 years of his life when he lived elsewhere.”
He’s plagued with the artist’s paradox, meaning “he can’t afford to make art because all his income goes towards paying off student loans to a prestigious art school that taught him how to make the art he now can’t afford to make.” To support his family and his art habit, he creates craft cocktails at Plonk! Missoula.
After a 10-year divorce from the art world, this “reconciliation” exhibit at the 4 Ravens Gallery marks a turn away from academia, and toward a more playful and fun approach to sculpture. “It is looser, coy, and reflects more of my personality and humor.”
To begin, he created pages of thumbnail sketches to help “find an overall emotional environment or feeling for the body of work as a whole.” From that point he began cutting metal and working with his hands. “Sometimes I would end up with what I had in mind,” he says. “Most of the time, however, the piece took on a life of its own and finished itself.”
He calls the show “tiny voices” in deference to the voices that constantly rattle around in humans’ heads. “They are embedded so deep within our psyche that we don’t even recognize them. They are sticky and pointy, they are varnished and raw – but most of all they are forever changing, like rust degrading over time.” Or like sculpture in an art show.
Lyn St. Clair: New Works
Opening Reception: 5:30-8 p.m. June 28 at the Frame Garden in Livingston
Artist Website: www.facebook.com/LynStClairArtist
Lyn St. Clair launched her professional career at age 12, when she started selling portraits of horses and dogs. In 1983, she began self-publishing limited edition prints of her pen and ink drawings and by 1994 had created more than 600 different prints that could be found in collections worldwide.
In 1990 she began to explore new subject matter – wildlife, plein air landscapes and the cowboy culture of the American West. Since then, her paintings have won more than 80 awards across the country, including Best in Show three years in a row at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art Show in Maryland. Her work has been exhibited at the Tucson Museum of Art, Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Bennington Center for the Arts, the West Valley Art Museum, the Hiram Blauveldt Art Museum and the Phippen Museum. It’s also in permanent collections of the Worrel Museum and the Bennington Center.
A Tennessee native who followed her art West, St. Clair moved to the Greater Yellowstone region decades ago. She currently resides on a ranch near Livingston, with inspiration never far from her door. Bears, cougar, wolves and other wildlife prowl through her backyard (sometimes on the deck), eagles and hawks ply the sky for prey, and countless miles of backcountry beckon to be explored on foot or horseback.
That authenticity seeps into her paintings.
“I live what I paint,” she told Todd Wilkinson in an interview for Explore Big Sky. “… I believe in painting what I know and if I’m going to paint it, I better know it.”