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Gallery: Kelsey Dzintars

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“Carl of the Cosmos” is valued at $7 trillion dollars. But he’s probably worth more than that—there’s something godly about the watercolor and ink lion.

Much of Kelsey Dzintars art portrays this magical realism.

“They’re nobody really,” she says about the subjects in her current show, a collection from the last two years. “I kind of want them to be everybody. They’re just characters, really. Even the ones that are based on real people.”

Most of them have their eyes closed: a woman listening to music, a bicyclist, a drummer, a woman with horns, a nude chasing a rabbit, a bull rider. A sense of optimism runs through the paintings, lending a familiarity to these sometimes-eccentric characters.

Originally from Rapid City, S.D., Dzintars moved to Bozeman in 2005 to attend MSU’s graphic design program. She graduated in 2009, and works now for the Outlaw Partners, a marketing firm and media agency based in Big Sky (the publisher of this website).

Dzintars has previously shown her work at MSU’s Exit Gallery, Theory Salon, the Nova, the Daily, the Emerson and Plonk. Dzintars is showing her work at 406 Brewery in Bozeman, with an opening reception Jan. 5 from 6-8 p.m.

– Emily Stifler

A conversation with the artist:

The eyes give a lot away. I want the viewer to have their own experience, especially because I paint mostly people. With the eyes closed, it leaves a sense of openness.

The figure in “Synesthesia” is nobody in particular. I did some live painting at the Chamberlain rail jam last year, and she’s based on that. The original one was on an eight foot piece of canvas that I spray-painted.

The girl on the door (“Red Room”) is based on a photograph I found on a European fashion blog. I found the door sitting in an alley when I was walking home from MSU while I was in school. It could be a functioning door if you wanted it to be… After I did that one, people started bringing me doors and window shutters. I think it’d be cool to do more of them—to do a full show of doors.

It’s kind of this feeling of… I guess I can’t explain it. That’s why I paint it.

Bullrider in Big SkyThey’re all kind of at peace. They’re feeling a deep sense of god or whatever you want to call it. That feeling of doing something overwhelming and invigorating… you get sent into a peaceful state. Even the cowboy—it’s got a lot of motion to it, but he’s calm. He’s in his element.

My paintings used to be very lonely and confrontational, in the sense that they were single figures staring straight at you. They were kind of unnerving—or at least that’s what people told me.

I went through a transition three or four years ago, when I started to get into this happier place. I wanted to paint the good things in life and all the exuberant feelings.

While it’s difficult to let go of the original image I have in my mind, I’ve learned that when I give in to the flow, the results are surprising and often better than what I intended.

In “Snow Ghost,” my intent was to paint that stretch of road going to the [Filling Station], based on a rainy night riding bikes with friends out there. I spent so much time trying to get the image to appear the way I’d seen it. I was frustrated, so I took a step back and just started going crazy with all this yellow paint, and a new image of a river emerged that I found reminiscent of driving through the Gallatin Canyon. Then [A friend] told me about seeing a wolf across a river in the middle of the night while camping. All those things converged into one image. That’s what I think is cool about painting—you don’t know exactly where this image came from, it’s kind of bits and pieces of life.

I hardly ever intend for the characters I create to be a self portrait. But in a sense, everything you paint could be a self portrait. It’s a piece of yourself, and no matter the subject matter or style, it’s you, because it’s your art.

I’ve always loved painting and drawing, and I think it’s really helped me in my design work to be good at drawing. It’s important to step away from the computer screen and work with my hands. It helps to keep my creativity flowing. Hearing others’ experiences with my artwork motivates me to keep painting, but ultimately it’s very personal. It’s something I do for myself more than anybody else.

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