By Mira Brody EBS ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
BOZEMAN – Every April, after months of sitting dormant under the snowpack, the roads of Yellowstone National Park are a road biker’s paradise. Free of motor vehicle traffic, visitors are granted with the surreal experience of riding through a serene landscape teeming with its wild, year-round residents. One group in particular, dressed in festive tutus, are met by a bison jam and, after patience yielded no progress, a ranger waved them through, imploring them to continue their ride directly through the herd.
This scene—a tiny human figure clad in a splash of pink, weaving through the towering bovine— is brought to life by Bozeman artist Kelsey Dzintars in her piece “Bison Jelly,” one of the featured acrylic works on display at her show “Moments of the Infinite,” hosted starting on Feb. 14 in the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture’s Lobby Gallery.
For Dzintars, the infinite is about being consumed by the space between dream and reality.
“It’s about specific moments when you’re awestruck,” said Dzintars. “For me its when I’m in nature, or doing something active where I’m overwhelmed. It catches me. I have to paint this.”
Which is exactly how Bison Jelly, and many of her other pieces, come to life—after her friends told her about their bison jam bike ride through Yellowstone, she had to paint it. “It’s about facing your fears and to look good doing it,” she said of the finished product.
Dzintars has been painting her entire life and quickly found a way to make art a part of her living. A Rapid City, South Dakota native, she has an impressive background in graphic design, including a degree from Montana State University, extensive work for Outlaw Partners, publisher of this newspaper, Arete Skis, OARS Whitewater and Boundary Expeditions. As someone who draws inspiration from nature, she prioritizes her relationship with that muse by spending summers working as a river guide on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho.
Finding the right balance between her career in graphics and pursuing her passion for painting is an important part of Dzintars’ identity—it wasn’t until 2015 when she made the conscious decision to make the latter a major part of her path.
Today, she’s careful about her practice, making it a habit to paint first thing in the morning so as to guard those first few hours for herself.
When discussing the “infinite” as a theme in her show, she aptly references Van Gogh, whose whimsical approach to the natural world would relate with Dzintars’, perhaps had he spent some time in the American West. Both, too, are strong advocates for their subject matter.
“When people find an emotional connection to the places that they’re playing in or experiencing, that forces action or behavior. It drives the desire to then save it,” said Dzintars, a staunch advocate for conservation.
“Moments of the Infinite” is a strong collection of Dzintars’ contemporary western, acrylic landscapes. The artists fearlessly uses bold colors in a way that enhances without overwhelming, and her gallery is a refreshing palette in an area that tends to lean toward classic styles. A patron will find familiar scenes including Boiling River in Yellowstone, Hyalite Canyon and Storm Castle Peak, as well as some stunning pieces such as “Protection,” which features a large animal skull as a centerpiece set against a rugged mountain landscape, her most recent project.
“Art is about connecting with people in a different language that gets a person thinking differently,” says Dzintars.
Meet Kelsey at her “Moments of the Infinite” gallery opening on Friday, Feb. 14 at 5 p.m.—her work will remain in the Emerson Lobby in Bozeman through May 3.