The Art and Soul of the Gallatin Valley

The Art and Soul of the Gallatin Valley

By: Kali Gillette

Bozeman’s art scene just got bigger, literally. Gallatin Art Crossing and Bozeman Sculpture Park have combined forces, and the result is more public art.

In 2008, Tate Chamberlin started Gallatin Art Crossing with $400 and the mission of creating an organization to facilitate and promote outdoor art. Now, as Director of the program, he is taking things to a whole new level. Fall will begin a lecture series aiming to start a dialogue around topics such as the business of art.

When asked where the idea came from, the answer is close to home. His father was on the board of Art on the Corner in Grand Junction, Colorado, which is wildly popular. The concept seemed perfect for Bozeman, a town full of creativity but without an outlet for large scale outdoor art.

Chamberlin explains, “I started the program selfishly wanting to be surrounded by neat art that I could stumble upon while walking downtown.”

Bozeman Sculpture park, founded by Zak Zakovi, had a similar vision, but served a limited space at the library. As both organizations grew, it became apparent that the whole was better than two parts, and after many long discussions, the boards decided it was time to merge.

Ellie Staley, board member, explains, “There were some similarities, some differences. It’s a wonderful program with a wonderful vision— large outdoor sculpture right downtown. Gallatin Art Crossing started very grass roots with amazing artists and received tremendous support from the community. It’s great to be able to merge and be more effective with our resources.” Her goals are straightforward, “To do something special each year.”

Today, there are more than 70 sculptures on loan to the program, decorating the Emerson Cultural Center, Soroptimist Park, the Bozeman Public Library and several nooks downtown.

The latest installation is complete at the Bozeman Sculpture Park behind the library. In a reception celebrating the art and the organization, board members and patrons shared their thoughts.

Chuck Peck, President, formerly on the board of the Bozeman Sculpture Park explains that his love of public art is what draws him to participate. “It’s a dynamic organization that accomplishes a great deal on a very reasonable budget.”

The future of Gallatin Art Crossing is bright. There is a consistent theme among board members, artists and patrons to see it expand and include more national and even international artists. Emma Latch, Secretary, loves seeing artists put their work into the community. Her vision is to expand the knowledge base of the organization by blending community, elementary schools, high schools and Montana State University. “Bozeman High School has a great art program,” she says, “It would be great to get them involved.”

Recently, Art Crossing is collaborating with the Clean Slate Group to decorate traffic boxes around town with local art. The community embraced it, and what began as an anti-graffiti program has now expanded nationwide.

Each year, Art Crossing recognizes one artist through the People’s Choice Award, this year’s recipient is Ole Nelson and his sculpture, DayDreamer, is located in front of the Bozeman City Hall. Voting for the 2016 People’s Choice is open from August 2015 to August 2016. Visit the online ballot to cast your vote:

All pieces are on loan to the collection and are available for purchase. Each year, Art Crossing tries to add one piece to add to the permanent collection. Watch for this year’s selection, coming soon.

As one art lover says, “It’s cool to walk down the street and see art you can touch…I love watching kids crawl all over the turtle on main street.”