Kirsten Kainz

Kirsten Kainz

By: Kali Gillette

Not many women take their first job out of art school as a blacksmith, but Kirsten Kainz isn’t just any woman. It wasn’t long before she began sculpting on her own, doing personal commissions and participating in art shows. Her sculptures, made from old metal parts and pieces are whimsical and varied.

Her husband lured her to Bozeman from Vermont where her art career was thriving. “I thought I was moving into this big cultural abyss,” recalls Kainz, “But instead it was this huge thriving arts community.” She soon discovered Gallatin Art Crossing where in addition to being the recipient of a People’s Choice Award, she has served on the board of directors.

Her studio houses her rusty junk collection. She jokes about climbing over mountains of recycling in search of just the right pieces, and while she has some secret spots, people also bring interesting things to her.

You’ll find her sculptures tucked around Bozeman. Ivy the cow lives in front of the library, a butterfly decorates the Emerson lawn and Buckeye the cowboy keeps post by the parking garage. Recently she has started using color, illustrated by her most recent addition to the outdoor art collection, a ladybug in front of Starky’s.

Kainz describes her favorite part of being an artist, “The challenge of bringing a vision to life—going through the battle of creating something and having it come to be. Sometimes that’s even a surprise to me.”

For example, the Owl at Irving School, was envisioned from a grill plate of an old car. “If I can feel it, I just go grab it and start,” Kainz says. “Other times, I pray to god the right energy and inspiration will come.”

With four girls, her biggest challenge is being both a mother and an artist. “They are two intense worlds that take over, it’s hard to switch from one to the other,” says Kainz. “I tell myself, I have to make this painting today, I only have 2 1/2 hours until I pick up the kids.”

Ask her what her dream piece would be and she will give you a quick answer, “Seven giant tortoises, each one in a shade of the rainbow serving as a traveling monument for equality and peace. Each tortoise would be named after a human rights activist such as Abe Lincoln who had a major impact on civilization.”

It doesn’t stop there. Kainz is also a painter. Her work is abstract and graceful, mainly featuring landscapes and animals. Paintings are sold in combination of galleries, shows and commissions. Locally, she is represented by Visions West Gallery in Bozeman, Livingston and their location in Denver, CO. Original paintings can be purchased at ETSY, montanapaint and her full collection of sculpture and paintings can be found at

Her latest piece, a robot, was inspired by an old vent. “I looked at it and said, that needs to be a robot.”

“That’s the magic,” she explains, “that’s what keeps me doing it.”