An Art-Filled Visit to Billings, Montana

A visit to Stapleton Gallery and the Yellowstone Art Museum

My eyes had a visual feast during a recent trip to Billings, Montana.

The Trophy Room at Stapleton Gallery

First, I attended The Trophy Room, an opening at the Stapleton Gallery, a space located a historic building that has been lovingly restored by Jeremiah Young.

Shown: Putt Thompson & Jeremiah Young

The gallery is an invitation-only space that approaches art exhibits in a fresh way. During the year, they host one-night experiential shows asking the artists they represent to create work in response to a topic. This event was The Trophy Room—the Hunt for Art, and artists were asked to share their perspective on the notion of "trophy." We are all hunters but what do we seek?

Cyrus Walker

Sculpture by Stephanie Revennaugh

Ben Pease; Kevin Red Star

Over 12 gallery artists and guest artists participated in the show including:

Audrey Hall

Jenny Booth

Cyrus Walker

Jennifer Eli French

Kevin Red Star

Ben Pease

Judd Thompson

Dominique Paulus

Jennifer Li

Shawn Rivett

Keoni Carlson

Amber Jean

The show was hung in artistic “wall tents,” that appeared to be the canvas variety but was actually a look-alike fabric that gave the illusion of a wall tent but was more luxurious and easier to work with.

Patrons raved about the art and the space, it was a fun night of food, drink and conversation.

Yellowstone Art Museum

The following day I visited the Yellowstone Art Museum, one of my favorite museums in the Rocky Mountain West. Two new mind-blowing exhibitions opened: Montana Peepshow: Stories by Leslie Van Stavern Millar and James Todd’s Looney Toones.

Queen Elizabeth I Encounters Sacajewea and William Clark, Travelers Rest – 1805

Queen Elizabeth I Moderates as Jack Dempsey and Tommy Gibbons Shake Gloves, Shelby – 1923

Evelyn Cameron Photographs Queen Elizabeth I and a Homesteader, outside Terry – 1906

In Montana Peepshow, Van Stavern Millar creates a fictitious story of Queen Elizabeth the First, utilizing a time machine to travel to Montana during various time periods. The beautiful, highly detailed gouache paintings are housed in wooden boxes that patrons view individually through a hole in the box, creating a “peepshow.” I bought the catalog with postcards of the paintings. It’s a treasure for any age.

"Night Nurse" by James Todd

"Watching the Bully" by James Todd

James Todd's childhood drawing vs. new art of "Electric Lantern"

Also at the Yellowstone Art Museum, Looney Toones is a special exhibit, created after James Todd’s mother dropped off a cache of his childhood drawings made when he was between 5-8. Todd reinterpreted his childhood drawings through woodcut printing, the medium for which he is perhaps best-known today.

More images from The Trophy Room at Stapleton Gallery below. 

Categories: On Location