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Beautifying Big Sky through place-based art

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By Maria Wyllie
Explore Big Sky Associate Editor

BIG SKY – With heavy construction in Big Sky and major developments in Town Center, local high school student Dasha Bough is hoping to offset some of the less attractive infrastructure that accompanies it.

She’s calling it the Big Sky Beautification Project, or as she calls it, the “Wrap Project.”

Bough, a 15-year-old sophomore at Lone Peak High School, first thought of the idea after seeing how other communities such as Bozeman and West Yellowstone were placing artistic vinyl, anti-graffiti wraps on bear-proof garbage cans and utility boxes to help beautify the community while also telling a story.

As an artist and community member, Bough wants to bring this kind of “city art” to Big Sky, not only for visual enhancement, but also to relay Big Sky’s character and history to visitors.

“I want to invite local artists to create art that’s somehow relating to Big Sky, and I’m forming a committee to choose the artwork that’s going to become a wrap,” said Bough, indicating that she hopes to incorporate place-based local art, photography and historic images of the area. “I want as many people as possible to feel ownership, whether [they] be artists, sponsors, or people on the board,” she said.

Bough will head the committee, which she anticipates will consist of seven to eight people, including a representative from the artistic agency they choose – either Big Sky’s Rau Designs or Bozeman-based Clean Slate Group. Both have submitted bids for the project.

Clean Slate Group is a city-beautification company, which installed the wraps in West Yellowstone and Bozeman that first inspired Bough.

The company’s creative director Chance Remien says the Clean Slate team takes pride in helping clients through every step of the process. A portion of each project is returned as an in-kind donation to a charity of the community’s choice.

The committee and agency will be decided by Jan. 15 and a call for artist submissions will go out by the end of February, Bough says. Installation will occur as soon as the snow starts melting.

Bough hopes the project will consist of three phases. Phase one will involve wrapping an estimated 10 electrical boxes in Town Center and the traffic light box at the Conoco, as well as around 15 bear-proof garbage cans in the Meadow Village. Phases two and three will be expansion stages in which the number of wrapped garbage cans and boxes will increase around Big Sky.

Town Center has already contributed $2,000 to help get the project going.

“We are very supportive and … thankful that Dasha wants to beautify the community in this way,” said Ryan Hamilton, project manager for Town Center. “It’s an incredible project to give back to the community.”

The scope of the project is dependent on funds, but Bough has received support from many other local organizations, including the Big Sky Owners Association, Chamber of Commerce, Big Sky Community Corporation, Crail Ranch, Rotary Club, and the Big Sky Arts Council.

Bough is adamant that the wraps be reserved exclusively for art and not become a form of advertising. As a high school sophomore, she has also learned valuable skills throughout the planning process.

“I’ve learned a lot about funding and how to manage different groups and relations … how to suit everyone’s needs but stay on my own path and keep the project true to what it is,” she said.

“It speaks to art, it speaks to the community, it speaks to place making,” said Hamilton, who has watched the wraps go up around Bozeman over the past few years. “I think they are really powerful.”

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