David J. Spear’s Butte Photos On Display at Paris Gibson in Great Falls through Feb. 11, 2013

January 18, 2013  |  Art, Do, Drive, Events, News  |  No Comments

Butte is my adopted hometown. I always say if I die and am reincarnated, I want to come back as a Butte Girl. I shot most of my Senior Project there as a MSU student in 1992 & 1993. I thought about moving there after graduation, but at the time there was no speed limit and I could get there from Bozeman in less than an hour. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to be 23 and single and living in Butte, so I visited her on the side and–20 years later–I’m still visiting her on the side. (She is Pat Shannon to my Charles Kuralt.)  I am completely inspired by her architecture & street life (it’s the only town in MT where you could be a street photographer). So though I like to go there for a good time, I have never been able to fully commit and think of  her as my  long-standing mistress.

Earlier this week, I had to add caption info to a photo I’d take an the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art and was on their website when I came across a current exhibition titled A Timeless Town in Time – Butte, MT:  The Photography of David J Spear – 1977-2008.   The thumbnail shows a beautiful black & white image of  what appear to be two twirling Tieman Irish Dancers at practice.  I started Googling Mr. Spear and from what I can tell, he is a part-time photography instructor at Salish Kootenai College. According to their website he teaches courses with titles like “Documenting Your Community” and “Historical Aspects of Photography Practice”.  In 1985 he also, according to his bio on the Salish Kootenai College website, developed the International Center of Photography’s Community Outreach Program for underserved communities of New York City and was its primary instructor through 1997. This KILLS me because I took my first (of many!) documentary course at ICP in the spring of 1997, so just missed him. His images have been published in the New York Times Magazine, Granta, German Geo and others. I am dying to interview him and have a call and email in to him, so hopefully I will be posting an interview with him here soon.

Meanwhile, here is what he says in his artist statement about his Butte exhibition:

“I was inspired by Butte’s photographic history and wanted to add my own contribution.  Beginning in the 1990s, I started making regular trips to the region from New York to photograph for a week or two at a time.  My fascination with Butte’s historic buildings and neighborhoods occupied me until the town’s inhabitants began to allow me to make their picture. 

In my work I become engaged in the coming in and then the going out….. the coming in and the going out of making photographs, even with things and subjects that know me.  In the process of making these pictures I journey to an unfamiliar place and, like all outsiders, after arrival feel an urge to belong.  But American culture often defines us with questions like, “Where were your parents born?  Where are you from?” which inwardly feels like “If you’re from there, you can’t be from here.”  So I continue to travel to this place….. each trip arriving as an outsider, and with each departure leaving in a small way distantly connected to the things and people in this place I know as,Butte, Montana-A Timeless Town In Time.  The coming in and the going out, I suspect, will reoccur there for a time.”

I hope I can make it to Great Falls before February 13 and see this.

 

A SPLENDID FEAST: All the Glitters in Gold West Country

A SPLENDID FEAST: All the Glitters in Gold West Country

December 23, 2012  |  Do, Eat, Events, history, Story, Towns  |  No Comments

Last Saturday, I attended “A Splendid Feast” at the Elling House in Virginia City. Held in the sprawling Gothic Revival home originally occupied by John & Mary Elling and their ten children, the event is an annual fundraiser for the nonprofit Elling House Arts & Humanities Center. The home and its expansive yard, now owned by Toni James (who also owns Rank’s Mercantile), sit on 26 city lots.

“It’s a multiuse house at this point,” laughs James, who bought the house in 1995 and now lives upstairs in the former maids quarters. In addition to A Splendid Feast, the Center hosts a Chautauqua the third Saturday of each month January through April, monthly Literary Events & Art Shows May through September, and one of Montana’s best Haunted Houses in October. It’s also an Inn too (one room so far, and I’m proud to say I was the first registered guest last August; more on this in a forthcoming post).

A Splendid Table was first held five years ago, before Toni had an adequate kitchen stove. Chef Amy Kelley—a VC resident who with her husband Scott owns The Gravel Bar and Banditos in Ennis—volunteers her time for this event and had to cook food off-premises until last year.  “I feel spoiled now!” laughs Kelley, who somehow churns out gourmet cuisine in the house’s still-dated kitchen.  “I just love this house, the history, the charm, and this event embodies the whole spirit of Christmas. It’s 100% put on by small-town volunteers, and it just amazes me how so few people can pull together such a spectacular evening.”

Held the third Friday and Saturday each December, the event kicks off around 5:30 when guests park in the back lot and are lead to the house by dozens of glowing ice luminaries.  Bundled in heavy coats and snow boots and carrying bottles of wine, attendees walk up the steps of the twinkling porch and through the door where coats are taken.  Bottles of wine are whisked away and tagged as guests are escorted into the glowing parlor and offered a glass of their wine or a cup of wassail. A fire crackles in the fireplace, the rooms—decorated by Debbie Rogers and Chris Stadler—positively glow with golden light, sparkling evergreen swags, shiny glass ornaments and holiday cheer.

After a good long while, it’s time to sit down for dinner.  Board President Judy King—dressed festively as Mary Elling, who entertained guests in the very ballroom where we sat—welcomed us with a Charles Dickens quote and a toast before Stacy Gatewood gave us a rundown on the menu.  Our $50 tickets entitled us to Wassail and a 4-course meal of Wild Mushroom Bisque; salad with Butter Lettuce, Pears, Pomegranate Seeds, Red Onion, Blue Cheese and a Citrus Vinaigrette; Cornish Game Hen with Huckleberry Port Glaze, and dessert of either Rum Cake or Lemon Pear Gingerbread.

 

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The food was exceptional! Conversation hummed, glasses clinked, wait staff buzzed back and forth filling wine glasses and baskets of freshly baked bread. Coffee was served and guests lingered before once again piling on winter layers and heading out into the brisk night air. As each of us approached the door, we were given a handmade ornament made of decoupage sheet music tied with a red ribbon: the perfect memento from a perfect evening.

 

WHEATGRASS SALOON: Livingston's Newest Watering Hole

WHEATGRASS SALOON: Livingston’s Newest Watering Hole

December 16, 2012  |  Art, Drive, Eat, Saloons, Stay, Story  |  No Comments

Though she doesn’t have a liquor license, Lisa Snow opened Livingston’s greenest drinking establishment 12 days ago in the former Drawing Room—a jewel box-sized gift shop on Callendar Street. But instead of alcohol, Snow serves up $2.50 shots of wheatgrass with a chaser of green apple slices on the side.  Yup, Livingston up & got itself a juice bar!

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Wheatgrass Saloon, Livingston, MT, Yellowstone Park, Yellowstone Country, Park County, Lisa Snow, Lynn Donaldson, Lynn Donaldson Photography, health food, raw food, juice bar, natural, fresh, fruit, vegetables, fresh-squeezed, Montana, Montana travel, travelFrank Horiel, Crown Creations, Livingston Artist, art, carved, wood, candlesticks, Danish Modern Candlesticks, Danish Modern, hand-crafted, Wheatgrass Saloon, Livingston, MT, Yellowstone Park, Yellowstone Country, Park County, Lisa Snow, Lynn Donaldson, Lynn Donaldson Photography, Montana, Montana travel, travelCan’t say I’ve ever been crazy for juice, but I now find myself regularly parked in the corner booth working on my iPad asking the bartender to spike my drink with Maca, or Spirulina.  Next to me might be a guy fresh off a spinning bike at Firehall Fitness across the street or a student with oil pastels strewn across her table.

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“We kind of went with a Music & Cocktail Theme with drink names,” says Snow, a petite mother of four with a passion for raw food, local ingredients and local art.  Juices come in 8, 12 or 16 oz. glasses and include Ginger n’ Juice(carrot, apple, pear, ginger), We Got the Beet (beet, apple, cranberry & ginger) and the popular Greentini (pineapple, kale, cucumber, celery, & green apple).  She also offers Juice Fasts for $30/day which incorporate these three cocktails + a Double Elixir (two shots of wheatgrass in fresh apple juice.)

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It’s no wonder the healthy concoctions are so scrumptious; Snow’s 12-year-old son Grant was “head tester”. “He’s really picky and won’t eat fruit or vegetables. Smoothies are one of the few ways I’ve always gotten them into him,” she says. “I was surprised; he even drank a Hurricane the other day, and that has spinach!”  (The fact that it also has mango, coconut water, coconut & banana might also have something to do with it.)

In addition to Wheatgrass Shots & the Elixir, Saloon Specials also include a $3.00 Young Thai Coconut. (Snow whacks the top off a coconut and sticks a straw in it; more electrolyte-dense than Gatorade + loaded with lactic acid; nature’s hangover tonic!)

 

The menu lists five 16 oz. Smoothies for $6.50 each. My favorite is the Man in Black (espresso, cashew milk, banana & raw chocolate)—but the Lavender Blue, made with Montana huckleberries and blueberries, cashew milk, banana & lavender, and Little Red Corvette (Montana cherries, cashew milk & raw chocolate) are tempting.

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“I’m still in awe of our state and how much fresh produce we can get,” says Snow hoisting a tray of wheatgrass grown by a local woman who uses nutrient-dense soil from Planet Natural in Bozeman.  “I get my bee pollen from a local beekeeper at our farmers market. I can get carrots, beets, apples, blueberries [and kale in summertime] from Field Day Farms in Bozeman, and my lavender comes from Hill Botanical.”

Snow points out a glass cake stand on the counter holding raw chocolates laced with herbs, local honey, ginseng, & cordyceps mushrooms “These come from Hill’s, too,” she says, noting the best-seller: an aphrodisiacal variety named  “Broad Balls” for Broad Comedy, a Bozeman all-female sketch comedy troupe.

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Snow wanted to create a space where her friends and neighbors would want to hang out, as well as incorporate as many local elements as possible. The narrow space is still a gift shop up front, but it now boasts the coolest carpet in all of Montana:  a peacock-feather print chosen by Gigi Aelbers Kellett of Synergigi Interior Design. “Gigi took my vision and flew with it,” Snow says.

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The juice bar counter, crafted from recycled 3Form resin, was designed by Aelbers, built by Diamond W Countertops and is supported by carved columns by sculptor Mark Strand.  Frank Horiel of Crown Creations Cabinetry inWheatgrass Saloon, Livingston, MT, Montana, Montana travel, Park County, Yellowstone Park, Yellowstone Country, Lisa Snow, Lynn Donaldson, Lynn Donaldson Photography, juice bar, health food, Synergigi Interior Design, Synergigi, Gigi Aelbers Kellett, raw food, fresh juice, fresh-squeezed, health, healthy lifestyle Livingston made the wainscoting and cabinetry—which utilize Montana pine beetle-kill wood. (Horiel’s Danish Modern candlestick holders are also for sale up front.) The booths were upholstered in a Maharam Greenguard certified fabric by Salzburg Designs of Bozeman, and the pillows are of a fabric designed by Teresa Kessler of Livingston.

Hanging on the saloon’s walls til February 8 are eight ink and pastel drawings by Livingston artist Jim Barrett. The gift shop offers small paintings by Edd Enders, necklaces by Sarah Homans, earrings by April Marie Hale, t-shirts byIntrigue Ink as well as house wares, 40 varieties of loose leaf tea + brewing supplies and quality bath & body products like Hurraw Lip balm made in Whitefish. (The tinted cinnamon looks and tastes good enough to eat.)

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Snow has gone above and beyond to make her business look and feel like it belongs in Livingston. When I compliment Snow on her achievement, she demurely shies away from taking.  Aelbers, standing nearby, cuts to the chase:  “ Oh come on…this place IS you, Lisa. Everything in here is beautiful & healthy and so delicious!”

Wheatgrass Saloon, Livingston, MT, Montana, Montana travel, Park County, Yellowstone Park, Yellowstone Country, Lisa Snow, Lynn Donaldson, Lynn Donaldson Photography, juice bar, health food, Synergigi Interior Design, Synergigi, Gigi Aelbers Kellett, raw food, fresh juice, fresh-squeezed, health, healthy lifestyle

Lisa Snow (left) stands with Gigi Aelbers Kellett of Synergigi Interior Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NUTS & BOLTS

WHEATGRASS SALOON - 117 East Callender Street. (406) 224-3895. Open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t even get me started on Lewistown…

June 27, 2011  |  Eat, Events, Stay, Towns  |  No Comments

…because I grew up near there, and I LOVE it! This video shows just a fraction of what this picturesque small town offers. From Wagon Wheels at The Dash Inn to the incredible pool at the shady City Park…to downtown, gelato and crepes at Lola’s. I also take you to the Symmes-Wicks House Bed & Breakfast, to The Mint for dinner and to events like the Central Montana Fair & Horse Show and Chokecherry Festival. Top it off with bread pudding from Main Street Bistro (view their menu HERE), and you’ve got a taste of Lewistown. But remember…it’s just a taste. I’ll be going back to do in-depth pieces of Main Street and its businesses, as well as taking you on some great hikes in the many mountain ranges that surround town. And remember….it’s LewisTOWN, not Lewiston—that’s in Idaho!

Here’s a link to an exceptional piece on Main Street Lewistown.