Gallery Walks

When considering the benefits that this town offers, our downtown certainly stands out as a testament to civic awareness, historic preservation, and community collaboration. In no small way does Main Street contribute to our lifestyle and humanistic development. And much of that contribution is due to our varied collection of art galleries. Some new, some deeply established, and some recognized internationally, these galleries fill a role that is, in more metropolitan areas, usually claimed by larger institutions. However, in our small community the responsibility of cultural advocate falls to those willing to present or display their ideas for public discourse. Surprising as it may seem, Thail Davis, Assistant Director of the Downtown Bozeman Association (DBA), recently noted that sixteen galleries on and around Main St. have chosen to take part in that discourse through the Summer Gallery Walks.

Held on the second Friday of each month from June through September (6:00-8:00 p.m.), these Art Walks have a huge following. So huge, in fact, that individual galleries and the DBA receive calls from all over the country about coordinating family reunions and vacations with the Gallery Walks. And this is as it should be, since the galleries of Bozeman are distinct and eclectic in their choices of expression. Yet because of the vastness of opportunity and the large scope of representation, the only appreciable manner of discovering their beauty and significance is to take yourself on a tour. Or better yet, take one with friends and family.

A historical tour of the Gallery Walks as described by Linda Brown, owner of Old Main Gallery, begins around 1990. Punningly referred to at that time as Main Art’ery, the idea was for several cooperating galleries to hold show openings on the same day to create a meaningful and harmonious atmosphere. The public was invited downtown to experience artists both at work and in conversation. Slideshows were presented, and refreshments were shared. Local artists then took over the responsibility of the Art Walk for a brief time only to have gallery owners once again reclaim the mission around 1994 and re-dub it Gallery Walk in Historic Downtown Bozeman. Despite all these changes, the statement of the Gallery Walks remains consistent: add to the vitality of Bozeman’s Downtown by opening its doors to expression.

This year finds the DBA getting more involved. Among other things, they’re arranging for local musicians to play at intermittent intervals along Main Street during the Gallery Walks, like Pied Pipers leading people from one gallery to the next. Davis says she wants it to be “a festive atmosphere.” Cactus Records owner Mike “Bueno” Good will offer up live DJ’s spinning esoteric grooves to add to the artistic mystery of these special evenings. And of course, many peripheral businesses stay open to enhance the occasion.

Anyone who knows Bozeman knows the summers are lovely. With average highs in the upper 70s and lows in the 50s, little to no humidity and plenty of sunshine, summer exists as a tangential and well-deserved testimony to our long winter months. And it behooves anyone with an insatiable need for Vitamin D to take advantage of those protracted days. A stroll down Main Street with baskets of flowers hanging from the lampposts and plenty of neighborly exchange is the typical small-town approach to a summer evening. But add aesthetic offerings in the form of paintings, drawings, sculpture, photographs, and custom jewelry, and we establish an incredible way to be involved in the subtle and obvious articulation of ideas that create a community. After all, in a small town, galleries represent the notions of museums and zoos and observatories and piazzas. They offer the ability to expand the psychic space that our brains reserve for creativity and substantive dialogue. In the Gallery Walks we have an opportunity to gain an alternate perspective on our view of the world through the eyes of those who choose to recast it in paint, charcoal, silver, and bronze. As Meg Sullivan of Chaparral Fine Art graciously declares, “We feel the fine art segment of Montana is worth celebrating.”

Outdoor Quilt Show

Join host Jane Quinn for the 13th Annual Outdoor Quilt Show on Saturday, Aug. 27th, from 10-5. The event is located at Quilting in the Country, three miles south of Main Street on 19th Ave. in Bozeman. Nearly 500 quilts will be displayed at the Quinns’ property—tacked onto the original homestead buildings, draped over fences & corrals, and hung from trees. The show provides a feast for the senses, whether you’re a quilting first-timer or a seasoned aficionado. A Quilt Show Class is slated for Friday, August 26th, with an evening lecture by Sue Olsen of Doggone Quilts, a nationally known quilter. Throughout the show there will be booths and trunk shows from regional quilt merchants and designers, along with ongoing demonstrations of new products. For more information, or to enter your quilt in the show, call 587-8216 or stop by 5100 S. 19th, Bozeman.

-Mike England