BOZEMAN – Big Sky artist Kelsey Dzintars’ art will stop you in your tracks. The woman on the Explore Big Sky’s Oct. 4 cover, perhaps half wild animal, is one of Dzintars’ most recent works, a 36 by 48” oil on canvas.

Dzintars will show her mixed media paintings at Zoot Art Gallery Oct. 2013-Jan. 2014.

The exhibit, “American Spirit,” features watercolors and oils from 2011-present, and is loosely themed on the contemporary American West.

A graduate of Montana State University with a BFA in graphic design, Dzintars drew inspiration for the pieces in this show from classical Western and American Indian paintings. Street art and graffiti also play into her style, and her subjects are clearly modern.

In her own brand of magical realism, Dzintars mixes nature and people, wolves, bicycles, cowboys and music. Not necessarily hyper-realistic, her unnamed figures are expressive and mysterious, ranging from playful to pensive.

“The people are all imaginary characters that I think anybody could draw their own story from,” Dzintars said. Who is “Vagabond” – the woman on the cover sitting astride the horse at night, wearing a bear or wolf skin on her head? “It’s up to you.”

The gallery is located in Zoot Enterprises, in Four Corners. Zoot is a global provider of advanced loan origination, account acquisition and credit risk management solutions.

“Art spurs creativity in the workplace, and we wanted to have that environment here,” says Zoot founder and CEO Chris Nelson on the gallery’s website. “It’s also important to provide local artists with a venue to display their works.”

With 108 linear feet of wall hanging space and large floor areas for sculpture, the gallery features a rotating schedule of works by Montana artists. All work sold through the gallery is commission-free.

Zoot marketing coordinator Darcy Barry was drawn to the bold colors and non-traditional Western subject matter in Dzintars’ art, and asked her to apply to the juried committee that selects the artists.

Originally from Rapid City, S.D., Dzintars moved to Bozeman in 2005 to attend MSU. There, she achieved an Award of Excellence from the School of Art, the Bronze Pencil Award in illustration and a student ADDY award for illustration. Dzintars is currently the senior graphic designer at the Outlaw Partners, a marketing and media firm based in Big Sky, and the publisher of this newspaper.

The show is at Zoot Art Gallery (555 Enterprises Lane in Four Corners), and is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dzintars will host an opening reception on Friday, Oct. 11, from 6-8 p.m., with music by DJ 5 star, appetizers from Dave’s Sushi, Madison River Brewing Co. beer and fine wine. For more information, visit kelseydzintars.com and zoot-art-gallery.com.