A dozen artists have created American-flag-themed pieces for an exhibition at Montana’s Stapleton Gallery.
The iconic and instantly recognizable graphic design and potent symbolism of the American flag have long proved inspirational for artists. For Jeremiah Young, owner of Stapleton Gallery in Billings, Montana, it was a circa 1913 photo of his Stapleton Building — home to both the gallery and Young’s interior design business, Kibler & Kirch — draped in red, white, and blue bunting that sparked the idea for a new show.
“I had been percolating an idea for some time around that image and the idea of ‘Show the flag’ — meaning to stand up for, support, or defend something or someone,” says Young, who also serves as gallery co-curator with Abigail Hornik.
Young and Hornik began reaching out to artists more than a year ago to ask for works inspired by that concept. The result is the exhibition Show the Flag, on view both online and by appointment at the gallery through July 4, 2020.
Comprising standout pieces by a full dozen of the gallery’s artists — including Ben Pease, whose work is an integral part of the Chicago Field Museum exhibition Apsáalooke Women and Warriors, and Montana Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Kevin Red Star, as well as Amber Jean, Audrey Hall, Boo Billstein, Carol Guzman, Jeff Corwin, Jennifer Eli French, Judd Thompson, Kaetlyn Able, Malou Flato, and Mike Clark — the exhibit works are available for sale on the Stapleton Gallery website.
See the show as it came together in the short film Behind the Scenes at Stapleton Gallery,”which follows Young and Hornik in real time as they unpack the remarkable artworks and hang the new exhibit. Two more videos — one of artist Judd Thompson “grafitti-ing the gallery” and a gallery conversation with Kevin Kooistra of the Western Heritage Center — contribute additional layers of meaning to the work.
“While always intended to be meaningful on a variety of levels, Show the Flag has gained unexpected importance from this time we’re living through,” says Young. “Works like Jeff Corwin’s Guns in America – #2 and Ben Pease’s American Me would have been provocative in any context, but they take on special power at a time when really going deep with conversations about America is so crucial. And I’m so impressed with the artists’ level of experimentation with pieces like Audrey Hall’s sculpturally wrapped vintage Breyer horses and Boo Billstein’s hand-quilted Omerta textile.
“With every Stapleton Gallery event we try to push the boundaries and expand the notion of what art is,” Young adds. “We’re so incredibly proud of this show.”
We definitely see why.
About Stapleton Gallery:
In 2016, Jeremiah Young joined forces with co-curator Abigail Hornik-Minckler to launch Stapleton Gallery with a mission to nurture and celebrate authentic Montana artistry. The gallery’s group of emerging and established artists work in a wide range of media from fine art photography to glass and bronze sculpture to a variety of painting materials and techniques. Follow the gallery on Facebook.