Meet the Muralists
Grace and Sarah Washko
From the two sister's Statement of Intent:
"People tend to ignore what is right in front of them. We often get caught up in where we are going and forget to notice where we are in the moment. Our aim for our mural proposal is to disrupt this tunnel vision and get people excited about the environment they inhabit. We propose to ground viewers by fading the pedestrian tunnel wing walls into an underground habitat. We aim to educate trail users about how the landscape is used by local plants and wildlife. Our design includes tunnels built by various creatures... a family of prairie dogs that are playing, a black bear is sleeping, and a mother fox and her kits are snuggling. The scene also includes a wiggling rattlesnake, a mischievous skunk, and an adorable burrowing owl amidst roots and fossils in the soil strata. Montana’s access to wilderness and wildlife is one of its greatest assets. Often Montana’s wilderness is celebrated with views of sweeping mountain vistas. While mountains are great, there are many diverse and interesting habitats to explore. If you take a look there is a lot to be found underground!
In addition to celebrating wildlife, we aim to celebrate community. We strongly believe that murals are community projects. We intend to teach and mentor community members who want to be involved. Having started our mural career with the Mentoring Peace Through Art Program in Minneapolis, which seeks to provide leadership opportunities and community engagement through the
painting of murals, we believe in the connection of community through art."
More about Grace and Sarah
"Originally from Minnesota, we parted ways for college. Sarah pursued a career in environmental restoration exploring Montana’s wilderness and the Midwest’s Northwoods. Grace pursued a career in graphic design and illustration while adventuring around the beaches and forests of the Southern US. While our careers took us in different directions and to different places across the country, we have always shared muraling. Throughout the years, we have continued to paint walls separately. Yet, after spending a decade apart, this year we have reunited in Montana. Montana has always represented a found home for us. To us, Montana is not only a place of beauty but community. This year we have discovered Montana also represents union. A chance to reunite and paint together in the spirit of community..."
John Isaiah Pepion and Louis Still Smoking
From the two artist's Statement of Intent:
"I am proposing Louis and I paint a star or night-themed mural. Based on Blackfoot star stories. There will be constellations, Blackfoot symbology, and design elements."
"A long time ago there were 5-7 kids, who were pitiful and orphans. They slept under the stars. They were teased and were picked on. Their only friends were dogs of the camp. Every year the children would ask for buffalo calf shirts. They were the softest hides. The lost children would ask every man and woman in camp for these shirts. But nobody would provide these shirts for the lost children. They asked every year. Other children got calf shirts and would wear them. The lost children swore to run away, and they did. They wanted to become water, but they thought: humans will drink us. They wanted to become flowers, but they thought: buffalo will eat them. They decided to become stars. The Moon took them in and embraced the lost children as her own. She named them the lost children. These stars are (Pleiades)."
More about John
John Pepion is a Plains Indian Graphic artist from the Piikani Band of the Blackfoot Confederacy. He is based out of the Blackfeet reservation in north-central Montana, where the Rocky Mountains meet the plains. John is best known for his ledger art, an art tradition that developed in Plains tribes on the buffalo hide. Traditionally used for painting, the hides became scarce, and the artists were forced to adapt to making artwork on the ledger paper from accounting books. He comes from a family of artists, and pictographic art has been in his family for hundreds of years.
**We have just been informed that John recently had to have a life-saving surgery and is in the hospital, with a long and difficult recovery ahead of him. His friends at Eighth Generation have organized a GoFundMe. Please consider chipping in what you can to help support this talented and giving artist of his medical bills.
More about Louis
Born and raised in Browning Montana, on the Blackfeet Reservation, art is in his veins. Inspired by other family members who were talented, he found art to be therapeutic and started drawing and painting from a young age. Growing up in a small community allowed him to focus on his ability to use a pencil and paintbrush. Louis finds all media equally important opportunities to express art to the world through his eyes. He likes to take on a challenge and put everything into his work. He graduated from Flandreau Indian School in Flandreau, South Dakota in 1998. Louis worked as a stone sculptor for 11 years and then decided to go back to college and further his studies in art. Louis’s work is always evolving and growing, “I try to convey a message that is relevant to all native peoples, whether that be social or political. My work expresses my own personal beliefs and struggles as a modern Native American.”
Kristy (KRUSTY) Overman
From KRUSY's Statement of Intent:
"My mural concept is based on a cast of colorful characters traveling around in different directions and with whatever mode of transportation they have. Maybe Big Foot on roller skates or an alien riding a unicorn, whatever. That’s the spirit of Montana for me. A bit of a DIY rebellious attitude, but offering an honest hardworking hand when needed. Montanans want to do it their own way and don’t care so much what everyone else is doing. For better or for worse, this concept also represents some of the changes this area is facing as more people transplant to the Flathead Valley."
More about KRUSTY:
"My name is Krusty. I grew up an artsy punk rocker on the Jersey Shore. After graduating art school. I took a summer job in Alaska. This diversion eventually led me to Montana, where I currently reside in Whitefish. I still have my "day job" up north, which allows me time to spend in my garage studio for the rest of the year. Most days are spent drawing an screen printing my line of art and apparel. Other activities include, the longest walks ever, with my buff PNut, shredding the hill, and teaching classes at KALICO."
From Madison's Statement of Intent:
"Having Montana as my backyard is something others only
dream of and I feel blessed to live in such a place. However, it took a move across the country and 7 years living in the middle of one of the nation’s largest cities for me to really appreciate what the Flathead Valley really is. Since I moved back here in 2019, I’ve made an effort to really appreciate Montana in ways I never did as a kid. Really explore the backcountry, become more involved in the community (KALICO), collaborate with local businesses, and learn about all the things that truly make the Flathead Valley special. One thing that I always mention to people unfamiliar with NW Montana is huckleberries. One of the most unique berries you can find. Not found on farms, not artificially recreated, just wild and untamed. I want to dedicate a mural to the beauty of such a simple wild berry. Huckleberries have been such a staple to my life and I’m sure many other locals feel the same. In the same way we dedicate a festival to this berry (Huckleberry Days), I want to paint a mural with that same level of passion."
More about Madison:
"I am a graphic designer and fine artist from Whitefish, Montana. I have been making art in all forms for as long as I can remember and i love being able to share that with this community. My inspiration come from surrealism, history, and the natural world."