Profiles of Local

Visual Artists

Below are the local artists who were featured in the
2017 "Artists in Paradise" calendar. 
Plains, MT
Hand-Thrown functional Stoneware
Plains, MT
Palette Knife Oil and Acrylic Painting
Noxon, MT
Oil, Acrylic, and Graphite Portraits 
Plains, MT
Acrylic Landscape Painting
Noxon, MT
Oil & Watercolor Painting, Western & Wildlife Art
Plains, MT
Wildlife Photography
Noxon, MT
Clay, Watercolor, and Acrylic Wildlife Art
Plains, MT
Multimedia Painting and Sculpture
Plains, MT
Multimedia Work Inspired by the Holy Spirit
Plains, MT
Trout Creek, MT
Stone and Metal Functional Sculpture
Plains, MT
Paintings, Fused Glass, and Clay Sculpture

Whistle Creek Pottery, Plains

(406) 826-3755


Ellen Childress

Ellen Childress is a potter who likes working with the four elements of earth, air, fire and water.  Her work enables her to participate in the the rituals of daily living and the celebrations of significant events through creating vessels that are appropriate for all occasions from birth through death.

Why are the arts important in our county?  Sanders County attracts a variety of people with various expectations of available recreational and cultural opportunities. The ability to participate in and experience a wide range of artistic expression can only enhance the experience of living or visiting here.


Art by Valia, Plains

(406) 826-4193

Valerie Curtiss

Val Curtiss began painting in 2003, using a palette knife with oils and acrylics to create bright, vivid images. After recovering from a 2005 stroke, she resumed painting in 2007, studying with Leonid Afremov in 2014.  She is a prolific painter who loves the brilliance of color and paints for pleasure.

Why are the arts important in our county?  I believe that art keeps the spirit alive, is a tool for healing, and needs to be encouraged and shared.


Art4You, Noxon

(406) 847-5598


Cinda Gazaway

Cinda Gazaway is a portrait painter whose professional career as an illustrator and draftsman have provided her with a solid foundation for her current work.  Working in oils and acrylics, she enjoys and captures the unique qualities of each of her subjects.

Why are the arts important in our county?  I believe the arts in our county are celebrated in The Paradise Center, which is a community in a nutshell as it offers information, history, the arts, and a place for family.


Rick Harter, Plains

(406) 826-2323

Rick Harter

Rick Harter has been an artist since his pre-school days.  He prefers realism in art, but also enjoys impressionism. He has created artworks in oils, watercolors, and currently paints with acrylics.  After a brief exposure to formal art training in college, he pursued and preferred art training through private art lessons.

Why are the arts important in our county?  I believe we do our youth a disservice if we send them out into the world without an education about and exposure to the arts.


Kaleidoscope Ranch and Gallery, Noxon (406) 847-2663


Mary Lou Johnson

Mary Lou Johnson began her fine arts focus in the early 1970s.  She leans toward oil painting, but also paints in watercolor and creates some clay sculptures.  Her main artistic influence is American Impressionism and her main themes are Western whether it be a landscape, wildlife, or portrait. 

Why are the arts important in our county?  Throughout history our culture is remembered most by the “art and music” of the time.


OK Photography, Plains

(406) 826-3221

Orval Kuester

Orvall Kuester has been an outdoor enthusiast all his life and has studied what makes nature “tick.”  His photography spans from the outdoor landscape to the minute details of tiny creatures that we often overlook.  His work brings all viewers closer to our surroundings and provides glimpses of what most of us will never see otherwise.

Why are the arts important in our county?  I think all artists have the power to make us aware of our world and help us appreciate what we have and where we live.


Golden Willow Gallery, Noxon

(406) 847-0137  Email:

Barbara Mullins

Barbara Mullins paints and creates sculpture based on the natural world.  Preferring watercolors and clay, she now lives where scenery surrounds and inspires her. She feels that God is the creative force in the universe and instills in artists the desire to capture the beauty that surrounds them.

Why are the arts important in our county?  Art in the community can be visual arts, music, or drama and can express a wide range of feelings that are part of being human; there should always be a venue for their expression.


Kenton’s Art, Plains

(406) 826-7788

Kenton Pies

Kenton Pies has been a “multimedia” artist all his life.  He has used stone, clay, metal, wood and more in his sculptures.  His paintings include watercolor, oil, and acrylic.  His 63 years of work is captured in a three volume book available on Amazon books e-store. 

Why are the arts important in our county?  All my life I’ve been a participant and promoter of all types of art. I firmly believe that art enriches humanity and is an essential part of living.


Shirley Proctor, Plains

(406) 826-3112


Shirley Proctor

Shirley Proctor is a minister and an artist who creates in a variety of artistic mediums relying on inspiration from the Holy Spirit.  She creates spontaneously in different venues including outreaches, conferences, and workshops, capturing feelings in-the-moment.

Why are the arts important in our county?  As a community, with our busy lives, we need to find ways to bind ourselves together to pause, enjoy, and reconnect – the arts provide this opportunity.


Heartwood Arts Photography, Plains (404) 531-3195


Cheri Seli

Cheri Seli is a photographer who has studied her medium since college and has taken her work more seriously over the past few years. She takes an eclectic approach to subject matter and continues to learn new techniques and explore new trends in digitizing. Her artistic goal is to capture light in contrast to shadow.

Why are the arts important in our county?  Having the performing and visual arts available in our somewhat isolated community offers residents enjoyable and enriching experiences and artists opportunities for networking. 


Rocks by Liz, Trout Creek

(406) 827-3772

Liz Smith

Liz Smith is inspired by the incredible location of her home. As a child and teenager she studied ballet, piano, violin, and cello.  She currently works with rock and copper to create both functional and decorative artworks.  Her studio is a greenhouse that enhances her connection to the natural world.

Why are the arts important in our county?  I believe the arts  expand the mind from "what is" to what "could be" and is very important in our lives individually and as a community.  It teaches a person to think outside of the box.


Art Studio 376, Plains

(406) 826-0500

Karen Thorson

Karen Thorson uses paint, glass, and clay to depict what is fundamental, striking, and memorable about specific subject matter at a particular moment. She strives to honor the character of a subject when choosing an artistic medium, to satisfy a sense of adventure in creativity, and to stimulate the senses of sight and touch.

Why are the arts important in our county?  The arts have been a part of humanity since primitive people beat hollow logs and drew images on the walls of caves to communicate, record history, and express feelings. The arts still serve those timeless needs.