Montana’s remarkable natural beauty and rich history have long inspired fine artists, and many of them call Glacier Country home. The vibrant towns scattered throughout the region are arts and culture hot spots where quaint downtowns are lined with galleries and art shops, and where local artists are revered. Visit a local gallery and even take home a treasured piece of Montana art for yourself.
The arts scene in this destination mountain town is thriving. Galleries, shops and the walls of local restaurants all proudly display some of the state’s—and the country’s—finest artwork. Between May and October each year, Whitefish Gallery Nights takes place on the first Thursday of the month. Local galleries open their doors after hours offering food and drink and an opportunity to view and discuss art.
At the Dick Idol Signature Gallery, find the work of artist Colt Idol, who’s described as “The New Face of the Old West.” Inspired by history, Idol’s passion is in merging the past with the dynamic colors, forms and light of today. Colt and his wife now run the gallery his father, Dick, started.
Beloved Whitefish artist Nancy Cawdrey brilliantly combines texture with vibrant colors in her whimsical ink-on-silk paintings. She’s known for her signature iris and western figure pieces. The Cawdrey Gallery features her own work as well as the work of almost two dozen contemporary artists portraying the colorful spirit of the West through a range of subject matter and mediums, from sublimely painted vistas to animated sculptures.
Going to the Sun Gallery offers fine art, custom-made jewelry and an extensive, diverse collection of bronze sculpture. Local Montana artists are highlighted here, including oil painter Jordan Porter. Porter has garnered quite a following for his work, which captures the otherworldly nature of Montana, marrying “the familiar and the phenomenal.”
Dubbed the arts and culture hub of Montana, downtown Missoula teems with galleries and shops dedicated to the Montana artist. Year-round, the First Friday art walk takes place the first Friday of each month, exhibiting Missoula’s robust art scene. The monthly event offers a chance to mingle with artists, view exhibits and purchase art. Galleries extend their hours and add sidewalk exhibits and live painting.
Monte Dolack was named by the Missoulian newspaper as one of the 100 most influential Montanans of the 20th century. His unmistakably recognizable paintings marry nature and myth, offering a fun, modern take on that which makes Montana, Montana. Dolack’s work, as well as the watercolors of his late wife Mary Beth Percival and the work of other rotating artists, is on display at the in-house gallery at Frame of Mind, a custom frame shop and art supply store.
Another Missoula icon, Larry Pirnie’s use of color and light offers a romantic and animated portrayal of life in the Rocky Mountain West. His vivid paintings capture Montana’s stoic beauty alongside the energy of the landscape and those who inhabitant it. See his work at L.A. Design and Framing.
A stroll through downtown Missoula will yield galleries galore, including Radius Gallery one of the town’s most popular. View the work up to 30 artists at any given time and stick around for artist talks and other events and this community-centric gallery and gathering place.
For almost three decades, Dana Gallery has been a cornerstone in Missoula, committed to spotlighting both seasoned masters and emerging local talents. You’ll find a diverse selection of nationally acclaimed artists, ranging from traditional western to abstract art in mixed media. As one of the state’s largest contemporary art galleries, Dana Gallery is a must-visit for any art enthusiast.
A. Banks Gallery curates a wide-ranging collection of American, Impressionistic, Sporting and Western art, representing three dozen artists from nationally celebrated to up-and-coming. The gallery’s commitment to offering fine art in a broad variety of styles, subjects, color palettes and sizes creates a dynamic and immersive experience for visitors seeking to explore the rich tapestry of artistic expression in Montana.
The arts-centered community of Kalispell includes multiple galleries and three art co-ops downtown, where you’ll find a lively mix of historical influence and modern methods. Kalispell Art Foundry is a full-service fine art bronze casting foundry that also houses the work of various Montana bronze artists, including Jack W. Muir, foundry founder.
EAST GLACIER PARK
The Blackfeet Nation’s significant heritage of American Indian art is well represented through Blackfeet tribesman John L. Clarke. Known as “the man who talks not,” Clarke, was an internationally renowned wood carver rendered deaf and mute by scarlet fever at the age of 2. But even in his silence, his art spoke—and still speaks—volumes. View his work on display at The Clarke Gallery in East Glacier Park.
This storybook village on the shores of Flathead Lake packs a big punch when it comes to the arts. Boasting multiple galleries, Bigfork is a haven for artists. At the Brett Thuma Gallery, view Brett Thuma’s wildlife and fly-fishing paintings, and even see him in action—he’s often in the shop painting. Also in Bigfork, find the sculptures of highly-acclaimed, award-winning artist Eric Thorsen at the Eric Thorsen Gallery.
Explore contemporary and traditional fine art or “Kunst,” including Blackfeet Indian art and intricate Blackfeet Indian beadwork at the Lodgepole Gallery—Manista’mi Gallery in Browning. Pore over moccasins, pouches, parfleches, hide art, drums, dolls and other traditional Blackfeet art, like paintings, prints, cards and more.
Please note: We ask that all our visitors and residents Recreate Responsibly by being mindful of the following: know before you go; plan ahead; play it safe; leave no trace; tread lightly; and help build an inclusive outdoors.
February 5, 2024