My family, by-in-large is from Montana. My wife is from Great Falls, MT specifically. Usually a few times a year we make the drive to Great Falls to visit. This Thanksgiving, we did just that.
I had a few things that I wanted to do while we were in Great Falls, besides the obvious of eating far too much stuffing and pie. I wanted to get a few nice shots of the kids, including our niece Shiloh, and I wanted to visit some of the Great Falls art galleries.
Trips to art galleries are a regular happening while at home, (see: SPOKE(a)N(e) Magazine: ) but we had neglected it every time we've been back to Great Falls.
At A Hooker's Gallery, an older gentleman was sitting in the coffee shop area. He was listening to the football game playing on the radio. I asked if I could take his picture and he agreed, not changing a bit as I snapped a couple of frames.
While we visited several galleries that were pleasing, most using the multiple artists at all times format, the location that stood out the most to me was the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art. Not only was there a large assortment of really nice pieces and bits of work in multiple rooms, the building itself was a work of art.
I was told by my mother-in-law that the building was blown up in the 60s for a movie and then re-built. I'm sure CGI is much cheaper, but you've got to admire that level of dedication.
Specifically in the Paris Gibson Square, Harold Schlotzhauer had some wonderful pieces in a show titled "Objects in Motion". He has a great sense of modern graphic design with digital prints on a variety of materials, from plastic sheeting, to skateboards. Also at Paris Gibson, was the piece "Three-Thousand and Counting" which includes dog-tags for every American soldier killed thus far in the Iraq war. A moving and beautiful piece.
There was a room full of tree branch statues. Ranging from cowboy's to unknown creatures, these pieces had a bit of the creepy, and a bit of the humorous. Worth seeing based on the skill of the artist to find a "face" in a piece of wood, alone.
The last night we were in town we did the classic Great Falls thing, and went to a bar called The Sip n' Dip. At the Sip n' Dip, besides having Piano Pat (an older woman playing such classics as "brown eyed girl" at an electric organ) there are mermaids behind the bar. Most evenings, as you enjoy your beverage of choice, a mermaid swims in the hotel pool visible behind the bar. Patrons leave tips in a jar and taped to the window for the mermaids. It's an experience I haven't ever heard of anywhere else.
After the Sip n' Dip, diner food is almost always a necessity. As such, Tracy's is the place to go. Tracy's is a diner seemingly unchanged since the 1950s. Mini-jukeboxes at each table, coffee as black as night, and a white shirted cook behind the counter, Tracy's begs for a photoshoot to go down there. I'm told, more than 1 movie in town has used the location.
Overall, it was a good trip, and I'm going to be sure to hit up the art galleries every time I'm back in town from now on.