Icons of the West: Redefined Through Art

Tomorrow night marks the opening of the Dana Gallery’s annual exhibition, “Icons of the West”. Running from May 16 to August 15, the show features over 100 works of art created to reflect what is iconically western. Everything from paintings to sculpture, bronzes, photography, and even animation will be unveiled tomorrow night. Mayor John Engen will be present as prizes are awarded in such categories as Best in Show, Most Original Interpretation of the Theme, Best Traditional Western Painting, and many more. The evening will also feature the music of Barnaby Wilde and an exclusive opportunity to mingle with several of the participating artists.

So what is an icon of the West? According to gallery owner Dudley Dana, “what excites me is that the interpretation of an icon of the West is limited only by the creativity and imagination of the individual artist.” Dana went on to explain that while we often immediately think of the Buffalo, the cowboy and the more traditional representations of the West, the oil wells and mining outhouses and other more industrial elements of our region are icons as well. An independent jury made up of art patrons, professors, curators and artists was assembled to ensure a variety of outstanding works would be included.

Boyd.Rollin' a Quirley.Mixed Media.40 x 40-w800-h800

The art included in this exhibition comes to us from all over the region and as far away as Santa Fe and Canada. Over 550 submissions came in for the show, and the pieces selected have been created by some of the nation’s leading artists. The show, now in it’s 3rd year, is meant to be a “diverse and engaging investigation and portrayal of western icons and the role they play in contemporary American culture.” However, it seems that the show also serves as a means to redefine what is iconically western. You’re sure to see cowboys and buffaloes, but you may be surprised by some of the icons included, and how these traditional icons have been reimagined.

The Dana Gallery itself has also reshaped our expectations of the West. Playing host to national and international exhibits from America’s leading contemporary and traditional artists and maintaining 18 years of representing an ecclectic mix of fine artists has brought this Missoula gallery national attention. Attention that has helped us alter the perception that many people throughout the nation hold of Montana. Along with other outstanding cultural organizations in Missoula, the Dana’s commitment to fine art has helped show that Missoula is not a dusty collection of cavalier cowboys, but a truly creative community with significant contributions to America’s arts and culture.

Boyd, Jack Dempsey (1019b)-w800-h800

As the “Icons of the West” continues to grow and evolve, founder Dudley Dana hopes to move it beyond his gallery walls and into a community wide event. With the attention gained on a regional and national level, this unique art event could be a significant way for us as a community to reclaim our identity and redefine what is truly iconic about this western land we call home.

The opening reception for Icons of the West will be held at the Dana Gallery on Friday May 16, 2014 from 6 pm to 8 pm.