On March 2, the Yellowstone Art Museum, affectionately known as the YAM, celebrates Auction 45, its sapphire year. But while the theme is blue, the art come in every color and genre imaginable.
Read on and discover what a sample of the artists have to say about their work.
• Dana Berardinis, Bigfork. No. 49, live auction: I’ve done art pretty much all my life. As a child, I was taken into the woods. A good friend of the family of family, Joan Staufer, gave me drawing lessons from first grade. We’re still best friends; she lives on a farm in Amish country. And there were people in my life who were very encouraging. I went to school at the Cleveland Institute of Art. I just always knew in my heart that my home would be Montana.
I started in charcoal and watercolor. I started oils at 15 or 16. There was so much more I could do with those. I try to also bring natural materials into my work. I actually burned the wood surface before I started the painting for the piece in the auction.
Tonalism is what I’m really connected to; 1880-1920 was when it was really known: mood and landscape without people. A lot of the work I’ve been doing is about the rebirth of the forest after fire, the cycle and we’re all a part of it. I look for remote places to bring people into the wilderness experience.
I do copperplate intaglio etchings as well.
The following artists are in the silent auction.
• Michael Blessing, Bozeman. No. 6: I grew up in Roundup. I did go to college for music. I’m a percussionist and I had a couple of my records nominated for Grammies. They were produced in my recording studio.
I got a late start in art in 2002. I never did visual art before. First I took private drawing lessons, then I started pastels to get into color. Then I tried oil. Oil was liberating. I liked it so much and I haven’t looked back since.
It’s my first time in the auction and I feel real honored to be shown there. I’ll be showing in March at the Western Masters in Great Falls as well this year.
• Sallie Bowen, Butte. Nos. 11, 12.
I grew up on Long Island. I came to Montana right after college with the Quakers to do a 10-week volunteer program. A summer in Montana, why don’t I do that? That was 1968 and I’m still here.
I would say I’ve done art most of my life, seriously more than 40 years. I remember second grade, drawing and coloring; sixth grade, painting on silk; college, art history and studio art. Back then, I was so overwhelmed by too many styles. Back then, art was all about being free. If it weren’t for Ben Steele, I would never have learned perspective. He was a breath of fresh air.
Now I find myself going back to things I did a long time ago. I have a master’s in special education from Eastern Montana College. I’m retired from teaching. Now I just teach in my studio.
• Michele Cohn, Red Lodge. Nos. 18, 19: By second grade I wanted to be an artist. As a kid it was crayons, as an adult, drawing and painting, in St. Paul, Minn. I had really great teachers in high school in Buffalo, N.Y. My biggest mentor was Jerry Rudquist. He was an abstract expressionist.
I came out to Montana 10 or 11 years ago and fell in love with Red Lodge. I do commercial photography and I’m married. I have some mixed media at the Toucan Gallery at least through February. I like rural scenes.
I do all kinds of photography. These (in the auction) were done with a Hasselblad medium format camera. I learned darkroom at 15. I also do a ton of digital photography.
• James McGregor, Red Lodge. Live auction No. 12, silent auction, No. 85: I was born in Santa Fe, N.M. I’ve been a tile contractor for 25 yrs, done the creative work since 2007. I use a lot of recycled glass and tile in our pieces. I was bored and just kind of pushing the envelope with concrete. Then people started telling me they were highly artistic; had I thought about that?
With benches, I wanted to see what I could do. I just poured another one this weekend. We collect a lot of river agate and driftwood in the summer and I use that.
I keep in touch with a bunch of artisans across the nation. I do the strange or off-the-wall stuff on the weekend. The regular stuff pays the bills.
• Jenna Reineking, Alta, Wyo. No. 107, also quick draw, Encaustic: I’m normally a print maker. I took a workshop in encaustic this summer and it’s the most amazing addicting process.
I’ve been doing art as long as I can remember. I went to MSU and got a degree in print making. I took a job opening for graphic design, no training required and I design T-shirts. I also make hula hoops. I’m trying to transition to just my art and hula hoops.
I live in a really beautiful place. I’m constantly surrounding myself with nature. That’s where the imagery comes from. Style, I’m still experimenting. It keeps it interesting.
There have been two ladies throughout my life, especially Sue Dolan. She was amazing. If you have a dream, you can do it. And Jeannie Close Waggoner. She did children’s art camps in the summer. She always had a theme for all age levels.
• Maggy Rozycki Hiltner, Red Lodge. Nos. 53, 54: How long have I been doing this? Oh brother, since 1996 nationally, and embroidered art for over a decade. My mother and grandmother were quilters and sewers. I went to art school and unlearned (sewing as an art form) and then came back to it. I have a degree in sculpture from Syracuse University. I also was a studio assistant at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tenn. I’m from the Philadelphia suburbs. We came out here to start the Red Lodge Clay Center.
There’s a great intersection of the fine arts with crafts right now. Anything goes. I sew all the time. I do a lot of nature as metaphor and I really respond to the materials around me. I collected homesteader materials while I lived in Powell. I try to put layers of meaning into my pieces.
They’re definitely readable as relationship stories.
• Michael Stanish, Billings. No. 123: I majored in biology and chemistry at Bozeman where I had a great drawing teacher. Then I switched to art and went to Missoula.
An important mentor? Ted Waddell. He taught me that every stroke isn’t precious until it becomes part of the whole. I’ve done all kinds of art, including large metal sculpture and handmade guitars.
I’m impressionistic, I guess. I’ve done realistic stuff, like an animal with every hair or feather.
You might as well just take a photo. When you can just relax, things all flow together and the painting starts to speak to you and tells you where you’re going. If you try to force it, it feels forced and it looks forced.
To see Mr. Stanish’s sculpture, go to Michaeljohnstanish2.blogspot.com.
• Jordan Pehler, Miles City. Nos. 99, 100: I started doing art in high school and then went to college for art education. I’m the education director at the Custer County Art and Heritage Center. My high school teacher, Susan Dolan, was my first and greatest influence. I really like to draw and when I draw, I draw realistically.
Encaustic has been around for thousands of years. It’s having a surge in popularity. It’s beeswax with either color layered or mixed into the wax. I layer oil paints between layers of wax. I like how unpredictable it is. When it’s lit properly you can see all the layers. As soon as it cools, it can be buffed with a soft cloth and it will keep that shine. The wax is part Damar resin and it will become quite hard and will resist dirt.
I call this color study duality, opposites in colors and the copper and wax.
• Keely Perkins, Miles City. No. 101: As long as I can remember, I’ve done art. My grandpa was an artist and we had his pictures hanging up in our house. I really wanted to be like him, even though he passed away before I was born. I went to Louisiana Tech as an art major on a track scholarship for discus and shot put. I’m an artist/athlete; the art specialist for Miles City and I teach first through sixth grade and coach. I have some students who bring me things they’ve done at home. It’s really rewarding.
I started watercolor just about a year ago and I absolutely love it. I like how quick you can do things and the detail. I have young kids, a 2-year-old, Catherine, and Lachlan, who’s 9 months. The watercolor dries quickly, so I can safely put it away.
Our ranch burned this year, all gone in the fire. The western mountain bluebird (in her painting) is a reminder that things will get better.
Doors for the 45th auction open at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 2. Tickets are still available for $95.