Expressing Montana

Humans have always looked to poets, writers, visual artists and singers to take the pulse of the world.  Artists are like canaries in a coal mine—the first to taste the poison, the first to fly to freedom. Art generally reflects the artist’s ideas about beauty and truth. Artists are compelled to express their lives—the place they live, the times, the traditions they cherish. Expressing Montana was a project of the Western Folklife Center seeking to document and present the artists from this place, who make social, political, spiritual or environmental commentary.

Expressing Montana included an exhibit at the Missoula Art Museum, June 10 through August 28, 2011 with a gallery talk and live concert event on July 7; an hour-long public radio special that aired at 7:30 pm June 27 on Montana Public Radio, and at 7:00 pm July 6 on Yellowstone Public Radio; and a web presence that includes audio, video and pictures of the 27 artists the Media staff interviewed for the program.

Listen to or download the Expressing Montana radio show:

Click on the names below to find out more about the extraordinary people featured in Expressing Montana. Hear their voices, watch short videos, and view photos. Each person answers a key question about their life and art.

Kier Atherton and Jessica Kilroy (Pterodactyl Plains), Trego (1) - Singers/Songwriters
Wally Badgett, Miles City (2) - Western Cartoonist
Michael Beers, Missoula (3) - Stand-Up Comedian, Disability Activist
Dave Boggess, Butte (4) - Carver, Painter, Sculptor
Mark Browning, Miles City (5) - Arts Administrator, Visual Artist
Victor Charlo, Dixon (6) - Salish Tribal Chief, Poet
Kate Davis, Florence (7) - Sculptor, Artist, Raptor Activist
Stephanie Davis, Columbus (8) - Western Singer/Songwriter, Writer
Richard Dillof (Dobro Dick), Livingston (9) - Writer, Musician, Antiquarian
Kristi Hager, Missoula (10) - Visual and Performance Artist
Ray & Shirley Jacobs, Eureka (11) - Musicians and Luthier
Sandy James, Dillon (12) - Rancher, Songwriter, Fiddle Teacher
Greg Keeler, Bozeman (13) - Poet, Singer/Songwriter, Teacher
Tom Malloy, Butte (14) - Reclamation Expert
Wallace McRae, Forsyth (15) - Rancher, Poet
Paul Zarzyski, Great Falls (15) - Rodeo Poet
William Ohrmann, Drummond (16) - Sculptor, Painter, Retired Rancher
Henry Real Bird, Garryowen (17) - Crow Poet & Poet Laureate of Montana
William Rossiter, Kalispell (18) - Musician, Humanities Scholar
Christian Parrish Takes the Gun (Supaman), Crow Agency (19) - Crow Hip-Hop Artist
Martha Scanlan, Tongue River Valley (20) - Singer/Songwriter, Ranch Hand
Toni Seccomb, Butte (21) - Sculptor, Artist
Nicholas Vrooman, Helena (22) - Folklorist, Historian, Scholar
Monte Yellow Bird, Sr. (Black Pinto Horse), Great Falls (23) - Painter, Artist, Educator


Expressing Montana is sponsored by the Western Folklife Center whose mission is to “expand our understanding of ourselves and our neighbors by celebrating the everyday traditions of people who live and work in the American West.”  Curated and produced by Hal Cannon and Taki Telondis, the project is generously supported by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation with assistance from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Missoula Art Museum, Montana Public Radio, Yellowstone Public Radio, the R. Harold Burton Foundation and the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.