By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor

BIG SKY – Todd Connor is best known for his Western historical and landscape paintings, but when he visited an artist friend in New York City in 2008, he was inspired to paint ‘urbanscapes,’ as well.

What struck him most about the city was “the buzz, the energy and the contrast between organic and man made.”

Connor has since visited New York three times and San Francisco twice, and has approximately 40 paintings from those trips. Cities, he says, are “like canyons,” in the sense of light and shadow.

Born in Okahoma, Connor did a stint as a Navy Seal, went to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., worked at Universal Studios, and finally landed in Montana in 1999.

Today, living in rural McAllister, which is north of Ennis, he says his interest in city scenes represent an alter ego.

Plus, he says, it’s important to try new things. “If I have something different to do, it keeps me fresh for the Western stuff.”

Connor is classically trained, and some of his main influences include European and American Impressionists—something that’s evident in this show.

Although he’s already sold two of the urbanscapes, this is the first time Connor will have hung them in a gallery as part of a show. Holding this kind of show in Montana is an experiment, he said, meaning that here, people are often more interested in Western art.

Connor credited Creighton Block gallery owner Colin Mathews for thinking outside the box.

For Matthews, who moved Creighton Block to Big Sky from Virginia City two years ago, “It’s important to represent artists first and foremost, as opposed to being here to make it easy to sell a particular genre of popular Western art to clients.”

This show, Matthews says, shows Connor’s range and his command of impressionist techniques. “It was something I found exciting.”

Todd Connor’s city scenes will be in Creighton Block Gallery, in the Big Sky Town Center, Aug. 3 – 20. There will be a reception Aug. 3 from 4:30 – 7 p.m.