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Artist residency program connects artists to the wilderness of northwest Montana

Artist-wilderness connection
Posted at 10:50 AM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 12:50:42-05

KALISPELL — A residency program attracting artist from across the country offers a chance to become fully immersed and inspired by the wilderness of Northwest Montana.

“To take your creative process and get out there in nature allows you to grow in ways that you might not foresee and that is a risk and a chance that is so worth it,” Landscape Painter Ken Yarus told MTN News.

Since 2004, 50 artists from a variety of mediums have participated in Kalispell’s Hockaday Museum of Art’s Artist Wilderness Connection program.

“We have had artist that have come from as far away as Connecticut, Iowa and then right here in Montana,” said Flathead National Forest Conservation Education Specialist Teresa Wenum.

Each summer, selected artist hike into a remote backcountry cabin in the Flathead National Forest staying up to two weeks at a time in a faraway, beautiful setting.

The program is a partnership between Hockaday, The Flathead National Forest, Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation and Swan Valley Connections.

“We’ve had writers. musicians, sculptors, and of course your visual artists, photographers so, it’s been really diverse,” added Wenum.

Artists create work on their own schedule, inspired by their surroundings, with all necessities provided except their own art materials.

“If you’re not from here you might not know how amazing the opportunity actually is,” said Oil Painter Richie Carter.

Flathead Artists Richie Carter and Ken Yarus participated in the residency in 2016, staying at the Granite Cabin in the Great Bear Wilderness.

Combined, they produced close to 50 paintings.

“It’s why it’s so great to have such a long time because you just take a few days to get acclimated to that pace, you know no cell phones, no distractions and all day to paint is a pretty big luxury,” said Yarus.

After the completion of the residency, each artist is required to showcase their work at Hockaday Museum of Art either through an exhibition, performance, or educational program.

“It really ranges, we really tailor it specifically to that artist and we work together very closely with the artist to conceive of that project," said Hockaday Museum of Art Executive Director Alyssa Cordova.

Yarus said he continues to draw inspiration from his time in residency, cherishing one painting of Granite Cabin he kept for himself.

“Paintings when you do them outside are like little screenshots into your memory, anytime I see a painting I can remember the time of day, the smells, the feeling of it all, it’s fun to be able to have those little memories, I’m sad I only have one, but we sold the rest of them, which is cool,” said Yarus.

Artists can find an application for the program online.
The application deadline is February 18.