Yellowstone Art Museum (Billings, MT)

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  Colorful painting of two children dressed up for make-believe

Kids' Dress Up Time (1957) by Robert DeWeese, one of the works featured in Yellowstone Art Museum's exhibition on Modernism in the American West, Making Connections. Image courtesy of Yellowstone Art Museum

The Yellowstone Art Museum, founded in 1964 in the former Yellowstone County Jail, includes contemporary and historic art from both celebrated and emerging artists in its collection, with an emphasis on Montana and surrounding regions. The museum offers six to ten exhibitions each year from its permanent collection as well as from collections held by other museums and collectors.

In FY 2005, Yellowstone Art Museum received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $25,000 to support the exhibition Making Connections: Modernism and Contemporary Art on the High Plains, 1945 to the Present, Works from the Permanent Collection of the Yellowstone Art Museum. The exhibition, on display from July 2005 to January 2006, was a major installation of the museum's permanent collection, highlighting for all audiences the evolution of abstraction, modernism, and contemporary art in the American West. The exhibition was accompanied by an in-depth catalogue, which offered a scholarly perspective on the evolution of contemporary art in the West.

The artists featured include those who began work after World War II -- such as early Montana modernist Isabelle Johnson, Robert and Gennie DeWeese, and Bill Stockton -- alongside a later generation of artists such as Walter Piehl, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Dennis Voss. Also on display was the only extant collaborative piece by Montana artists John Buck and Deborah Butterfield. The legacy of these early modernists is preserved today not only in the distinctive, innovative works displayed in the exhibition, but also in the work of the contemporary artists who have been powerfully affected by their style.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)