Fish Tales: Fishing with Elise

It's the moments that matter most


Back 40: Night

Poet Florence McGinn takes us on a night excursion.

Letter from the Editor: Why Art?

A note from Big Sky Journal's editor, Seabring Davis.

Written by Seabring Davis  

Seabring Davis

Other Contributions

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 Timeless Fusion Mountain Tradition A Modern Vision 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: 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 Letter from the Editor: Staying Power
Photography by Audrey Hall  
August 2010

Every year we focus this one issue on the arts to honor the abundance of talent in our region. The Artist of the West column is a regular feature in the magazine, yes, but this issue encompasses all media — painters, theatre, performance art, sculpture, glass, literature, photography and music. We’ve been doing this for 15 years, yet each year when I assemble the cast of articles for Arts issue I am astounded at the broad talent in our region. It leads me to ask: Why art?

The fly fishing, the other forms of recreation that bring people to the Northern Rockies, I grasp simply, but the art, well, as they say, that’s subjective. My best conclusion is that at its core art is something to connect people to a place, a time, to each other. My answer may sound trite, but still, I believe it’s true.

There is a painting that hangs in my father’s store that has always spoken to me. It is a portrait of a young girl at the beach. She is around 5, brown-skinned, her sun-streaked hair pulled into a ponytail with a white ribbon. Sitting on her heals, her figure in profile, bare-bottomed, she reaches for a starfish from the sandy shore. I don’t know who painted it, but the essence of that image will forever encapsulate my childhood. It is something sweet and innocent, curious and lonely, too.

I was about the age of the girl in the painting when I first noticed it hanging in a prominent spot at my grandparents’ house. The girl at the beach seemed nearly my size and I wanted to play with her. I asked my grandmother who she was. Her response was so full of love; I will never forget it. “We bought that painting because it reminded us of you.”

The house is gone now. My grandparents have moved into the city. And the painting hangs with a jumble of family photos, psychedelic tropical landscapes, business awards and sales displays at my father’s store. It looks a little beat up. It looks forgotten. I doubt many people even notice it there, on its too-high hook. But I do. I see it once a year and I’m transported again to the moment when my grandmother held my hand in hers and stood with me — the cool tile floor on our bare feet a respite from the hot sand outside, from the midday heat on a windless day, the scent of plumeria and ocean air wafting — and I felt very loved.

Hopefully one of the many artists in this issue will resonate with you as a reader. No matter the medium, art has the power to create emotion, carry us to a time and place beyond our daily lives. Novelist Rick Bass does this in his own way, with fiction that imagines life on the road. We tap into the dynamic relationship between actor and audience with classic theatre presented each summer by Montana Shakespeare in the Parks. A gang of painters captures the quiet beauty in Plein Air Yellowstone, while the artisans of Goose Bay Glass of Townsend, Montana dazzle us with the magic of glass blowing. I hope there will be something in these pages that gives you that feeling of connection.