Mitch Billis: Ambassador for the Fantastical

Mitch Billis: Ambassador for the Fantastical

Numerous and eclectic, the sculptures populating down town cross creative barriers from the simple and abstract to the ostentatiously direct. Among the numerous and varied minds crafting pieces for the Gallatin Art Crossing, Mitch Billis stands apart as an ambassador for the fantastical. The large brass sculpture titled “My Story” occupying the Northernmost entrance to the down town library is one of the many creations spawned from the incredible creativity of Billis’ Bear Canyon foundry, Northwest Artcasting.

Sculpting in his upstairs studio, Mitch runs his incredible foundry surrounded by friends and family, each as smiling and hardworking as the next. Billis draws from his family and the wonder they bring to fuel his creations, a claim made evident as he carefully carves new detail into a large clay cast for his next commission: a whimsical sculpture of a young boy jockeying a tamed crocodile. While envisioned from his children, this Never Land creation resonates readily with the human love of fantasy. Just one step in the complicated and lengthy casting process that Mitch and his crew undertake for every piece, the Peter Pan cast is a much larger step up from the nearby model resting in his studio. The level of detail on these early stages is already impressive, threatening an incredible depth for the final product.

Walking through Billis’ foundry is akin to touring the fantastic organs of a giant bronze-laying beast, each room a humming section filled with art ranging the gamut of scale in various stages of completion. Racks filled with stampedes of brass stallions contrast with a giant koi veneered in green and silver, each in gleaming detail and sturdy stature. Mitch sees no end to his sculpting career and looks forward to the amelioration of his focus along with his family, all under the quiet gaze of an incredible brass menagerie.

The Art Crossing exhibit hosts a variety of artwork introducing viewers to many artistic approaches. The goal of the program is to add at least one piece to the permanent collection each year and expand further throughout downtown, hopefully bringing unique works to optimal locations. The entries for this year will be posted on the Art Crossing website and opened for public voting until the installation date. We prefer this level of community involvement and interaction for the art that we are placing for the public’s benefit.  The involved fundraising behind the Crossing incorporates a variety of techniques and entities such as community challenges and the solicitation of individuals and businesses for contributions, not to mention the hours of work from the board and volunteers.

see more of Mitch’s work >