Artist of the West: River, Sky, Paint

Brent Cotton's plein air painting is not for the faint of heart


Fiction: The Client by M. Don Oliver II

A well-worn bamboo rod tells the story that one son has waited a lifetime to hear

Letter from the Editor: Staying Power

Editor, Seabring Davis rings in Big Sky Journal's 20th year!

Photography by Dale Spartas  
Written by Seabring Davis  

Seabring Davis

Other Contributions

Timeless Fusion Mountain Tradition A Modern Vision Summer Camp Perfect Harmony Winter Getaway: Red Lodge, Montana Beyond the Cabin A Fine Balance Good Country Authentically Western A Home for the Ages Where the Living is Easy Music in the Mountains The Flight of the Hummingbird Living the Dream Integrating Nature Mountain Exposure Eclectic Parkitecture Uniting Color Historic Symmetry The Year Of The Horse A Yellowstone Club Retreat Hearth and Soul Building a Timeless Legacy An Uncommon Cabin in the Woods Letter from the Editor: I Know Where the Fish Are Letter from the Editor: Big Sky Country Letter from the Editor: Forging Ahead Dining Out: Barn Dance Letter from the Editor: Like an Open Road Letter from the Editor: The Language of Fishing Letter from the Editor: Cast Again Editor’s Letter: The Passing Season Dining Out: Saffron Table Dining Out: Lone Mountain Ranch Serves Up a Sense of Place Western Design: Uniquely Rustic Western Design: JLF & Associates Letter from the Editor: Season of Possibility Dining Out: A Montana Tradition, Chico Hot Springs Letter from the Editor: Design Trends Dining Out: The Ranch at Rock Creek Redefines Montana Cuisine Dining Out: Seasonal Bliss Western Design: Refined Rustic Letter from the Editor: Winter Wave Letter from the Editor: Blending Seasons Western Design: A New Mountain Lodge Western Design: Historic Haven Western Design: In the Studio with the Viers Western Focus: Classic Connection: Miller Architects Western Design: Reviving the Barn From the Editor: Seasons of Simplicity Dining Out: Innovation Meets Tradition at Bisl Letter from the Editor: What is art? Dining Out: Holland Lake Lodge, Rustic Wonderful Letter from the Editor: The Secret Weapon Letter from the Editor: Fly Fishing for the Greater Good Western Design: Mountain Zen Western Design: Creekside Contemporary Living Big Sky on HGTV The Spirit of the West in Jackson, Wyoming Letter from the Editor: First Snow Dining Out: The Old Hotel Letter from the Editor: Signs of Summer Letter from the Editor: The Angler’s Sojourn Dining Out: Simply Good Food From the Editor: Hit the Road Making a Statement: Miller Architects Letter from the Editor: Winter’s Toll Letter from the Editor: Evolving Home Dining Out: Comfort Food Western Design: Cowboy Modern Western Design: The Idaho Club Letter from the Editor: Talking Art Dining Out: Conserving Montana One Table at a Time Dining Out: Cosmopolitan Cuisine at TEN Dining Out: Ranch to Restaurant Letter from the Editor: Waiting for Summer Letter from the Editor: Arts Economy Letter from the Editor: First Frost Letter from the Editor: Why Art? Letter from the Editor: Up Close and Personal Letter from the Editor: A Tradition of Talent Letter from the Editor: Winter Reflection Dining Out: The Taste of Whitefish Letter from the Editor: How Big is Your Bucket Letter from the Editor: Falling Short Western Design: Rustic Allure Dining Out: Fish Food Western Design: In the Studio with Painter Hugh Wilson Western Design: Home Base From the Editor Dining Out: Tradition, with a Twist Letter from the Editor: Staying Power
January 2013

Since 1994, Big Sky Journal has been showcasing the Northern Rockies with unique insight and artfulness. It started with a couple of guys — founding publisher Jeff Wetmore and editor David McCumber — who were enamored by Montana, its beauty and grit, sporting opportunities and real people. Pair this place with the talented writers and photographers, they said, and we’ve got a magazine with staying power. They were right.

This issue launches the magazine’s 20th anniversary year. To celebrate, we will be looking back to stories that broke-through in the pages of BSJ when this fledgling effort began. In each issue look for “From the Vault” to read original articles that ran two decades ago, yet remain relevant today. This time, on page 30, John Holt waxes surreal while casting for bull trout.

This edition is also the annual Fly Fishing issue, where we bring the angler’s passionate pursuit into tight focus with strong voices and beautiful imagery. It’s also the issue where I spend far too much time looking up the correct spelling for woolly bugger (Woolly, woolley or wooly?) — feeling like a hatch-clutched angler on the river, dithering too long over a particular pattern in my box to find a match, while the fish rise unselectively to cottonwood fluff — until I finally concede that it is all of the above.

That’s a hard lesson in editing and fishing: that decision to relinquish control and let the presentation (of magazine or fly) be enough to satisfy. Perhaps that’s the moral in both: that perfection isn’t essential … the reward is in the effort.

That’s the message from our writers in this issue. Author and fishing guide Chris Dombrowski (“Fish Tales”) echoes it when caught in a spindrift on the Clark Fork with clients; he lets the river lead the way. Or read “Tenkara U.S.A.”, where Wyoming writer Chad Hanson discovers the Zen of stick and string. In photographer Gordon Sullivan’s photo essay “Polished Stone,” he reflects on river features ingrained in memory. And ask the dedicated angler’s of Craig, Montana, (“Fish Town”) what’s most important; chances are they will say it’s all in the living.

The reward is in the effort. That’s why Big Sky Journal has had staying power these last two decades — through the years we’ve captured the culture and lifestyle of this place we all love. I hope you’ll celebrate with us and let this issue inspire your adventures.