• "The Great Easter Buffalo Visits the Festival," by Walter Hook. Image courtesy of MMAC

    Montana museum full of hometown artists’ work

    Of the thousands of works art in the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, there are plenty of Montanans represented. 

    We highlighted a several in our “Art of the State” feature by writer Kelsey Dayton. They include Edgar Paxon and Rudy Autio, all the way to Fra Dana and Kevin Red Star – whose works are in the shown in the image below by Ken Barnedt.

    The MMAC is celebrating the 120th anniversary of its permanent collection in 2015. Art by Ken Barnedt

    The MMAC is celebrating the 120th anniversary of its permanent collection in 2015. Art by Ken Barnedt

    The MMAC’s permanent collection is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year and running an exhibit through May in Missoula.

    As Dayton explains, the collection, divided into two galleries on the University of Montana’s campus, is meant to be a global experience.

    The special events for the exhibit include a one-day showing of a pair of tapestries so large that they can’t be displayed longterm.

    If you’re in Missoula, be sure to check it out.


  • Elisa Plocher takes advantage of a nice spring-like day to train a horse at the Strain family home east of Corvallis. Photo by Perry Backus

    Family of cowboys, girls ready to release second Western film

    In the Bitterroot Valley, the cowboys and cowgirls do their own stunts.

    Well, at least the Strain family does.

    Ravalli Republic reporter Perry Backus got to know the horse-training-Western-movie-making family from Corvallis recently as they get ready to release their second movie.

    There's a lot for a horse to take in on a typical training session at the Strain family home near Corvallis. Ephraim Strain stands on the back of his horse while his sister, Tikvah, and friend, Nathaniel Van Kirk watch. Photo by Perry Backus

    There’s a lot for a horse to take in on a typical training session at the Strain family home near Corvallis. Ephraim Strain stands on the back of his horse while his sister, Tikvah, and friend, Nathaniel Van Kirk watch. Photo by Perry Backus

    The Strain family – with its seven boys and five girls – learned their love for everything equine from their father. And every one of them grew up watching old-time Western movies.

    Two years ago, the siblings decided they wanted to give movie making a try. And so they gathered friends who were handy on a horse or willing to step in front a camera to create the 40-minute-long Western “The Code of the Strain Express.”

    • See a slideshow of the Strains here 

    In late March, they’ll debut their second Western, “To the Town of Downing.”

    Seventeen-year-old Ephraim Strain directed last summer’s effort that included riders being shot off the back of their horses and a pretty impressive river-crossing scene that attracted its own share of attention at the Bitterroot River.

    “People were stopping and taking photos,” Naomi said. “It was an awesome scene. We probably would have had someone get shot off their horse in the river, but most of us can’t swim.”

    Ephraim has been interested in filmmaking for years.

    “I guess I reap what I sow,” Ephraim said about his role as director. “We had made some other little films when we were younger, just for fun. We decided it would be fun to do something a little bigger.”

    Read the rest of Backus’ story here

    To read more about Montana all year, subscribe today!


  • Submitted by Richard Keller

    TBT: Historic pics, war planes fight wildfires and a ghost sign conundrum

    Since it is Throwback Thursday, we decided to take you on a historical walk through our March/April issue (out now!).  It’s our Arts and Culture issue and it isn’t thin on historical features.

    Our featured image is from reader Richard Keller, who sent in several Pictured in History photos from the top of Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. It shows a group of “boys” clearing snow from the pass in the mid-1930s.

    First, writer Jessica Lowry introduces us to a set of vintage planes that are still working hard today. This set of P2 Neptune tankers – made to help fight in WWII, are kept in working order by a Missoula aviation firm.

    They do really important work, too. 

    Next, we had a story about ghost signs. Butte has one of the highest concentrations of the outdoor advertisments – painted in the early 20th century by “wall dog” artists – in the West. But what should be done to preserve them?

    It’s a hard question to answer.

    Submitted by Doris Redinger

    Submitted by Doris Redinger

    Finally, above is another Pictured in History selection, this time from reader Doris Redinger. We call it “Celebration Preparation.” 

    A set of friends living near Huntley Project in the early 1920s gather for a photo before a celebration there. Reader Doris Redinger said her maternal grandmother, Margaret Weigand, and her husband, John, immigrated to America from the German sector of Russia in 1906 and eventually homesteaded in the Huntley Project area. It was a German custom to have a large wedding and reception, the local neighbors would furnish the food and music for a dance and reception afterward. Fiddles and accordions were brought for the dance music, and ladies would prepare a big feast.

    “My grandmother and friends did this often, preparing everything from butter dumpling soup to roast chickens, pies, cakes, etc.,” Redinger wrote.

    For more, subscribe today. 


  • olney

    A list: Remote Montana towns you’ve probably never heard of

    We’ve been having fun so far this year showing readers a few Treasure State Hidden Gems – we’ve visited Monture Cabin and Ekalaka so far.

    They’re off the beaten path, no doubt. 

    But have you heard of these 12 Montana towns that the Billings Gazette has dubbed “12 Montana towns you may never have heard of.”

    Dagmar, for instance, is located in Sheridan County in the northeastern corner of the state, was once known for its many Danish homesteaders. The town itself is named for a 13th Century Danish queen. Today, the Danish influence remains with the town’s few remaining residents. Dagmar sits just a few miles west of the North Dakota border and about 25 miles south of Saskatchewan.

    Dagmar. Photo courtesy of the  Montana Historical Society

    Dagmar. Photo courtesy of the
    Montana Historical Society

    Click through and see which ones you’ve heard named before.

    Bonus points if you’ve been there.


  • West Butte in the Sweetgrass Hills. Photo by Kyle Laslea

    Reader photo gallery: New photos galore

    If you know anything about Montana Magazine, you know that we LOVE good photos.

    Including the stunners we have inside each issue, we are lucky to have a very talented set of readers who send us images all year.

    A sharp shinned hawk. Photo by Christine Eckel

    A sharp shinned hawk. Photo by Christine Eckel

    We update our Reader Photo Gallery regularly. Have you checked it out lately? We’ve got another batch of great images up now. 

    Do you have images you’d like to share? Please do! Include full photographer name, a brief description of the image, location of the shot and your contact information in an email with a jpg file of the image to editor@montanamagazine.com.

    To see more of the Reader Photos in each issue of Montana Magazine, subscribe today!


  • The KOA headquarters in Billings. Photo by Larry Mayer

    KOA’s Big Sky Country origins: A Montana camping legacy

    One of the most iconic camping companies in the world got its start in Montana.

    We loved sharing the story of KOA in our March/April issue.

    From the first KOA campground in Billings in 1961, the enterprise grew into an international corporation, boasting nearly 500 campgrounds in the U.S. and Canada by the second decade of the 21st century. 

    While Dave Drum created the perfect place to “rough it in style,” we asked our readers to share their favorite camping memories in our Facebook Fan Feedback, camping edition.

    Here’s what a few had to say:

    • Beth Davis Camping just outside of Lincoln; the sound of the timber trucks and most especially the smell of the pine. The best though, was camping in my own back yard at the base of the Highwood Mountains.
    • Cecelia Lankutis Lolo Peak, summer of 1977 with my oldest sister. (It) snowed on the third of July!
    • Luci Phalen Back when our kids were little (at) Kersey Lake and Lake Abundance. (There were) deer walking through camp at night, so many shooting stars and the telling of stories around the campfire. Priceless!

    Read the rest of the KOA and camping memories features in our current issue by subscribing today.


    • blackfoot-near-bonner

      Sunlight bounces off the Blackfoot River near Bonner. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    • flathead-at-dixon-agency

      Under the setting sun, children play in the Flathead River near Dixon. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    • flathead-near-bad-rock-canyon

      The Flathead River near Bad Rock Canyon is the perfect summer cool down spot. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    • milk-river-near-hinsdale

      Fall foliage frames the Milk River near Hinsdale. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    • teton-river-south-of-conrad

      The Teton River south of Conrad. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    • yellowstone-at-terry-badlands

      Songbirds float above the Yellowstone River near the Terry Badlands. Photo by Kurt Wilson

    Come roam the Montana riversides with us

    We’re lucky to get to share the wonderful work of photographer Kurt Wilson in our March/April issue.

    Wilson’s images from riversides across Montana (and we mean ALL across Montana) make up our Portfolio: Roaming the Riverside.

    It’s part of Wilson’s larger “Roadside Wanderings” project that took him around the state following historical roadside markers.

    His “best of” collection of riverside photos depicts a vast variety of territory – a concept that captures the broad role Montana rivers play in the state. 

    For one thing, “there’s a lot of history in rivers,” Wilson said.

    Our slideshow is just a sampling of Wilson’s beautiful work.

    See the entire Portfolio by picking up our current issue today. Don’t miss another Montana moment by subscribing today.


  • Philip John's "Hunting Party" included a murder confession. Photo courtesy of MMAC

    Behind the scenes: A confession by a murdering artist

    Art is many things. The Montana Museum of Art and Culture’s “Art of the State” exhibit proves that – showcasing the work of Montana artists whose work is part of its permanent collection.

    But have you ever heard of art as a confession tool?

    In our March/April Behind the Scenes feature, writer Kelsey Dayton tells us about on Montana artist who proudly proclaimed his crime on the front of one of his drawings (which now is part of the MMAC’s permanent collection).

    Here’s the full story from Dayton: 

    “Staff at the museum told me every piece in the exhibit has a story, either about the work or the artist. My favorite piece isn’t necessarily the prettiest, but it has a great story. ‘Hunting Party’ by Philip John is almost a crude looking watercolor on paper, depicting men playing a stick game and a parade of seven horses, while in the background hunters take aim at game. The best part of this painting was found in the left corner of the drawing. There, an inscription told the story of John, who drew the picture in a Missoula jail in 1892. He also detailed his crime: ‘Philip John, Indian Artist, Companion of Pot Latch Fanny and Peter who murdered ROMBAUGH in the Bitter Root Valley 1889 …’

    The inscription references an incident in August 1888 when John, Peter and Potlatch Fannie were accused of attacking two prospectors and killing one named Jack Rombo, near Darby. The story is no longer on the front of the piece, but is preserved on the back.”

    "Cavalacde" by Rudy Autio is part of the MMAC's permanent collection. Photo courtesy of MMAC

    “Cavalacde” by Rudy Autio is part of the MMAC’s permanent collection. Photo courtesy of MMAC

    Read more about the beautiful collection and all the Montana artists featured in it here.

    Want to read the full story? Subscribe today!


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