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When Art Meets Design

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Architect’s Wife

Too often in interior design, wall art is treated almost as an afterthought. But the right painting, print, collage, mixed media installation, or other piece can set the tone and be the centerpiece that you design around. Distinctive art can provide a color palette and even a theme to guide the rest of your design choices. In short, far from being an afterthought, wall art must be a main source of inspiration.

One of Ben Pease’s pieces, “Indian Police,” at The Architect’s Wife. PHOTOS BY CATHY COPP

That’s certainly the philosophy embraced at Abby Hetherington Interiors and the accompanying Architect’s Wife interior design showroom, in the historic Montana Motor Supply building in downtown Bozeman.

“Art can have a profound effect on the way a room is designed and planned. It can change the entire dynamic. I never wait until the end of a project to choose artwork,” says Abby Hetherington, founder and owner. “In many cases, we will decide what artwork will be featured as the first step in the process. Art is emotional and personal—it’s an essential element in helping develop the design concepts.”

The right piece of art will benefit an interior space by creating a single element to draw the eye from which harmonious design can flow. “Because art is so subjective, it’s important as designers that we realize that designing around art must be personalized to the client and represent their individuality, style and taste,” Hetherington adds.

Architect’s Wife has long been a supporter of local and global artists alike, including a trio of creators who are on display now at the downtown Bozeman showroom. Their work could be the ideal focal point for unique interior design.

Wallace Piatt’s work featured at The Architect’s Wife downtown Bozeman furniture store. This piece features Piatt’s signature found-and-sewn canvas along with a vintage jean jacket on the subject of the painting.

Up-and-comer Ben Pease is a Bozeman resident who draws on his Crow and Northern Cheyenne heritage for his Native American art/mixed media style. In his paintings, he combines historic photographic references with significant artifacts—like Buffalo nickels and vintage ledger paper—to tell the history of American Indians and the influence of European colonization, which is a main theme in his work. He views himself as a storyteller first and foremost.

Cherlyn Wilcox, also a Bozeman resident, has embraced an intuitive abstract style. As she creates her multi-layered paintings, she takes it one step at a time, with no specific plan. There is rhythm to the work that comes through in the finished paintings, as she layers fields of color and bold brush strokes on the canvas spontaneously, the previous move influencing the next.

Wallace Piatt, of Santa Barbara, California, brings a rugged vintage and often-confrontational sensibility to his paintings. A materialistic Minnie Mouse, stoic but vividly colored Old West characters, or tattooed pop art women—his work is anything but subtle as it brings materialism, the cultural relevance of social media, and other, sometimes political, themes to the forefront.

Three very different artists, but all share a passion for taking the viewer on an emotional journey. Using distinctive wall art like this, as an effective framework for your décor, is an opportunity not to be missed.


The Architect’s Wife is located at 23 West Babcock Street in Bozeman. Visit or call (406) 577-2000 for more information. For interior design services contact Abby Hetherington Interiors at abby@ or call (406) 404-1330.

Joseph T. O'Connor is the previous Editor-in-Chief for EBS newspaper and Mountain Outlaw magazine.

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