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Celebrating Montana history



Art gallery opens new showroom

By Jessianne Wright EBS Contributor

BIG SKY – A variety of museum-quality artwork is now on display beneath the clock tower in Big Sky’s Town Center, a result of Creighton Block Gallery opening its third location in January.

The pieces, all forms of Western art, range in date from 1840 to 2015, but all share in their historical accuracy and quality, reflecting owner and gallery director Colin Mathews’ passion for Montana history.

Later this month, Creighton Block will join with Gallatin River Gallery and the Arts Council of Big Sky to host the Auction for the Arts at Lone Mountain Ranch on Thursday, March 24.

“Golden Boy” by Greg Woodard, wood carving

“Golden Boy” by Greg Woodard, wood carving

The clock tower display room has pieces arranged with plenty of space to create a sense of volume, according to Courtney Collins, assistant to the gallery director. An informational booklet provides background and context to the older works, which were made available by Tierney Fine Arts; however, the gallery staff is a valuable resource into the layers behind each piece of art, including those more recently completed.

As one example, Mathews described important nuances and gave context to his early February window display.

The vibrant colors of Kevin Red Star’s depiction of the Crow Indian way of life in “Night Owl” were complemented by a lightly patinaed bronze sculpture by Greg Woodard, titled “Taking on Jupiter,” in which a buffalo charges an on-coming train. Historical accuracy is in the details, Mathews explained, pointing out important cultural motifs in Red Star’s work and historical facts related to Woodard’s title and rendition.

“Art is not just a visual decoration for me,” Mathews said. “When it carries stories, it is most wonderful.”

Mathews also described Tom Gilleon’s modern perception for his new “pixoil” digital creations, which he said, “bridge between historical or representational painting and very contemporary design.”

In one of his new-media digital artworks Gilleon depicts a fox hunting a rabbit near a solitary tipi. A series of paintings were folded together with software technology to produce the video, a process which has been repeated for two other gallery pieces, as well as several commissioned works.

“Taking on Jupiter” by Greg Woodard, bronze statue

“Taking on Jupiter” by Greg Woodard, bronze statue

Mathews first opened his gallery in Virginia City, in an 1867 stone building listed on the National Historic Register as a part of the Creighton block section of town. The name seemed to fit, and has carried over since the move to Big Sky in 2010. From the gallery’s name to its featured pieces to its historic artists, Montana history is all apparent at Creighton Block.

Artists Tom Gilleon and Greg Woodard, among others, will attend the Auction for the Arts event, participating in a “quick-finish” session where they complete a work of art at the event and the final pieces are auctioned off later in the evening. Half the proceeds will directly benefit the Arts Council of Big Sky, while the remainder will be distributed among participating artists.

“[The auction] is for art lovers, and showcases not only the best artists in Montana, but the growing community of artists we have right here in Big Sky,” said ACBS Executive Director Brian Hurlbut, adding that local artists will be featured in a silent auction. The live auction will highlight the work by the 10 “quick-finish” participants.

Mathews welcomes visitors to his gallery, and also plans to host an artist meet-and-greet either before the Auction for the Arts, or the following day.

Tickets for the Auction for the Arts are available through the Arts Council of Big Sky, and must be purchased in advance. Visit for more information.

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