Congrats: Fall 2019
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Congrats: Fall 2019

Billings artist Judd Thompson, 36, who was asked by Pendleton Woolen Mills to create a design for one of their world-famous wool blankets. The invitation came at the Denver Summer Art Market, where a Pendleton representative invited the artist to submit some of his work for a potential blanket design. After a year of gathering images of his work and preparing for the presentation, Thompson submitted 13 designs. Pendleton selected “A Horse Named Paint,” which Thompson described to as a dreamlike “silhouette of a horse running through this snow-covered field.” Thompson grew up around the Pendleton blankets sold at his parents’ business, The Custer Battlefield Trading Post Cafe in Crow Agency. “Because of the store, I constantly had artwork around me and artists coming into the Trading Post, selling art out of the back of their truck, and I thought that was cool,” Thompson said. The blanket featuring his artwork made its national premiere in late September, and a limited number were available during Crow Fair at his family’s trading post. They are currently available there, at the Stapleton Gallery in downtown Billings, as well as other Pendleton outlets.



Missoula artist, Barb Schwarz Karst, whose acrylic painting, “Fearless,” recently won the Richeson/Shive Award in the National Society of Painters in Casein and Acrylic’s (NSPCA) 65th annual national juried exhibition. The NSPCA displayed her artwork at the Salmagundi Club in New York City in June 2019. Schwarz Karst has been juried in, and displayed with, NSPCA in the Big Apple for the past 13 years and this is the second national award she has received. The first was the Judy and Elias Newman Memorial Award, given for her painting of Chief Joseph. She is best known as a contemporary painter, whose acrylic series, “Shifting Winds,” emphasizes how the West is still intriguing and often romanticized; her “Montana Rust Belt: Abandoned Industries” depicts abstract close-ups of the machines used centuries ago during Big Sky Country’s early labor development.


Great Falls artist Jay Joseph Contway, who was honored Sept. 6 by the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and the C.M. Russell Museum with the Saddle of Honor award during a chuck-wagon barbecue at the museum. “Montana’s Storyteller in Bronze” has spent a lifetime creating western sculpture. His knowledge and respect for the working cowboy shows clearly in his art, and his sculpture displays an appreciation for history, his own native ancestry and the people and animals of the West. Contway was inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2015, and now joins last year’s Saddle of Honor recipient Charles M. Russell. The event is part of a pilot project currently taking place between the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and the C.M. Russell Museum to find a home for all honorees of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame. Both organizations share the mission of honoring the Montana cowboy as integral to defining the values of the “Soul of the American West.”


Montana artist Sandra Dal Poggetto, whose artwork is featured in the Fall 2018 issue of Minding Nature and graces the front cover of the journal. In an article titled “Landscape Art?” senior editor Anya Claus interviews Dal Poggetto about her paintings, which Claus says “cross temporal and spatial scale, creating an amazing array of pulsing and colorful canvases.” The artist, whose artwork and accompanying essays have been published in several academic and literary journals, says of her abstract works: “The natural world is a profound place. It really is a place that never ends. And if you’re truly engaged in your art and if your artwork or your painting is about landscape, it is a never-ending discovery.” Read the interview at


Whitefish author Jeff Giles, who was recently hired by Vanity Fair to hold the newly created position of executive Hollywood editor for the magazine’s Los Angeles bureau. Giles, who joins full-time after serving as a VF contributing editor and as a contract writer for The New York Times, will oversee the bureau and be charged with assigning and editing entertainment stories across all platforms. In the entertainment journalism realm, Giles is well known for his long run as an editor at Entertainment Weekly where he oversaw the movie team and books coverage from 2006 to 2014. He has also held editorial positions at Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and was a senior editor at Newsweek where he led arts coverage and created that publication’s Oscar Roundtable franchise. A bit of Giles personal trivia: He appeared as an extra in “The Lord of the Rings” while writing about the franchise. While living in Whitefish, he published two young-adult novels, centered in northwest Montana: The Edge of Everything and The Brink of Darkness


Montana State University film graduates Charles Burt and Omar Parker, who traded in their post-commencement academic regalia for tuxedos for their first trip as filmmakers to the Cannes Film Festival in France. Burt and Parker traveled to the prestigious European film festival with the short independent film, “Anna.” The duo and Egerton Crescent Productions, a company they formed while MSU students, were executive producers for the film. Written and directed by Dekel Berenson and made in the Ukraine, Israel and United Kingdom, the 15-minute “Anna” was one of 11 films that vied for the 2019 Palme d’Or in the festival’s short film category.


Missoula artist Teresa Garland Warner, whose oil painting, “Sunrise Glow,” was accepted in the National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society 28th Best of America National Exhibition at Montgomery Lee Fine Art Gallery in Park City, UT. The exhibition is on display Sept. 27-Oct. 27.


Whitehall artist Janice G. Bogy, whose scratchboard of a grizzly bear titled “True Grit” has been selected for the international “Animals in Art” exhibition of the Society of Animal Artists. The prestigious show opened at the Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio, TX, on Sept. 19 and continues through January 2020. 


The MAPS Media Institute, an award-winning educational non-profit based in Hamilton, which was recently awarded a five-year, U.S. Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, which specifically funds afterschool and summer programs. Since 2004, MAPS’ free-of-charge media arts courses have served 8th to 12th graders in Ravalli County, and in recent years outreach workshops have been offered in a number of rural locales, including on the Flathead, Blackfeet and Fort Belknap Reservations. Beginning in November, MAPS will add year-round after-school media arts classes for students in grades 8 to 12 in Helena and East Helena, modeled after the Ravalli County program. The new MAPS – Lewis and Clark County program was inspired by a collaboration with the Holter Museum of Art in 2018 that resulted in the student Emmy Award-winning mini documentary “Art for Survival.” A narrative film, “EAST,” also was created with East Helena students in 2019 as part of a Myrna Loy Theater project. “MAPS was so inspired by the students’ excitement and commitment, that we immediately started brainstorming how we could bring a year-round afterschool and summer media arts program to this part of the state,” said MAPS Executive Director Clare Ann Harff. Half of the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant funds are earmarked for MAPS – Lewis and Clark County. MAPS will find a new home with some old friends at the Holter Museum of Art, which will house a new media arts studio. For its inaugural year in Lewis and Clark County, MAPS is offering two after-school classes: a graphic design class on Mondays and Tuesdays and a filmmaking class on Wednesdays and Thursdays from November to May.


The Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale (BSO&C), which recently received a $25,000 grant from the Tippet Rise Fund of the Sidney E. Frank Foundation for its Explore Music! program. The music education and community engagement program of the BSO&C was created to share symphonic music with as many people as possible while cultivating a lifelong appreciation for the performing arts, and reaches tens of thousands of children, youth, adults, and seniors each year. The $25,000 grant will expand the already successful outreach program and bring symphony concerts and programs to more Montanans in towns across Stillwater and Carbon counties. The funds help support Musicians in Schools, Rural Rhythms concerts, Adventures in Music Day, the family concert of “Peter and the Wolf,” and master clinics for high school students.


Photos: Pendleton blanket design by Judd Thompson, “Fearless” by Barb Schwarz Karst, “Sunrise Glow” by Teresa Garland Warner, “True Grit” by Janice G. Bogy, Minding Nature, cover art by Sandra Dal Poggetto, Jay Joseph Contway




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