Billings, MT - Call to Artists! Submit your work to the Yellowstone Art Museum's 49th Annual Art Auction. The event takes place March 4th, 2017. Submission deadline is Friday, October 14th, 2016.  Submission is free for all artists.  The juror will be Kenneth L. Schuster.  Kenneth is the Director & Chief Curator at The Brinton Museum in Big Horn, Wyoming. 

Apply Online:

In addition to supporting a charitable event, artists who are juried in enjoy the following benefits:

  • Inclusion in the 49th Art Auction and the exhibition and catalog.  The exhibition is presented in the museum’s main galleries, and runs from January 19 to March 4, 2017, at the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, Montana.
  • A special invitation to the opening reception honoring participating artists, Thursday evening, January 19th, 2017.
  • One copy of a full-color catalog.
  • All of the juried artwork will be displayed on the YAM’s website.
  • Widespread regional advertising and promotion of the Auction.
  • One complimentary ticket to the culminating event on March 5, 2016, and one guest ticket at half price.
  • Special acknowledgment for artists making full donations to live or silent auctions on exhibition signage, catalog, and website.

Also apply on the same application to be a Quick Draw artist where art works are created on-site at the event and first in line for bidding during the Live Auction. 

We are looking for U.S. artists, 2D and 3D works, created within the past 3 years (except jewelry). The Artist must be at least 18 years old to enter. A complete set of rules, eligibility requirements is listed on the application form. Fill out an application online and email submission images or any questions to Tanya Ruiz This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

By Tyler Morrison

October is a fascinating culinary month. How exactly did the stars align so that a two-week holiday celebrating the culture of the common mans’ drink shares the same month as the day we dress up as superheroes and pop culture icons and cram bulk discount candy into our bodies. Both Oktoberfest and Halloween give us an interesting opportunity to elevate our food and drink game to heights we dared not reach previously. Can we combine these two merrymaking occasions? It is possible to combine craft beer and dessert? Oh, absolutely, and it is delicious.

Sometimes beer doesn’t get enough credit. Sure, you can find beer pairings on menus now. But beer and dessert are naturally great friends. The potential for matching flavors opens the door to some seriously killer after-dinner pairings. Beer contains all the glorious essences of your favorite desserts. Chocolate, fruit, caramel and coffee flavors abound in our favorite bubbly drinks.  Of course, pairing drinks with any food isn't as simple as just matching flavors—there are other elements at play that can gloriously make (or disastrously break) the match.

An often-repeated rule suggests that the beverages served with a multi-course meal must increase in intensity as the meal progresses. The idea being that a reverse in intensity will leave the beverage tasting weak compared to its precursors. The result often sees desserts served with big, heavy high-proof brews.

While the rule often holds true, especially when pairing wine, the beer loving community is constantly turning this guideline on its head.  Barleywine, imperial stout and double IPA seem to find their way as meal-ending palate-crushers more often than is necessary. They can do the work, but these beers are best reserved for the richest, fattiest, most mouth-painting of desserts. Imperial stout, for example, is classically paired with flourless chocolate cake. This pairing is brilliant: the dense, fatty, richness of the cake is enough to protect the palate from the aggressive bitterness and alcohol of the beer while the flavors blend brilliantly. But put that same imperial stout with a plain piece of very dark chocolate and the harsh boozy flavors of the high-alcohol beer will dominate without a lot of palate-coating fat.

The best beer pairings are the ones where both the food and the beer are enhanced when they come together. These pairings can be a little easier when following some basic rules.

  1. Tart flavors pair well with rich flavors. Tart flavors can overwhelm almost anything and those things that they don’t overwhelm often clash horribly (think orange juice and toothpaste.) There is one very broad exception, super rich foods. Foods like red meat, cheeses, and cheesecake.
  2. Strong flavors pair well with creamy foods. Take an American strong ale like Stone Brewing’s Double Bastard or a Belgian strong ale like Brother Thelonious from North Coast Brewing. These are huge beers both in alcohol and in flavor. Monsters like this must be tamed so we need something creamy (read fatty) to balance them out.
  3. Malty flavors pair well with tart flavors. Beers like bocks and barleywines are rich and thick with malt flavors. They feel heavy in your mouth. Some compare them to liquid bread. So you want to pair these malt forward beers with foods that have a strong enough flavor to compete. You need something big and bright to cut through the heaviness. I like to keep it simple and let these complex beers do the talking. Fresh fruit or stinky cheese should do quite nicely.
  4. Roasty flavors pair well with chocolate. Try a stout with chocolate lava cake. Any stout will work with this pairing, but you really don’t have to go to the extreme of a Russian imperial stout. A more toned-down chocolate, milk or coffee stout will not lose anything in the chocolate pairing and will make for an amazing dessert. Save those Russian imperial stout beers to have on their own (or maybe in a milkshake.)

Now that we’ve established some ground rules for dessert and beer to become fast friends, I challenge you to find your own unusual beer and dessert pairings. In a world now overflowing with sour ales, doppelbocks, pilsners and lagers, we should all be maneuvering intrepidly into the realm of discomfort when it comes to unusual pairings. One thing is for sure, letting oneself indulge in too much beer and sweets has never turned out poorly for anyone.


Big Sky Connection

Eric Tegethoff

October 12, 2016

HELENA, Mont. - Anyone who lives in the Western United States is familiar with the massive fires that rage every summer, and a new report says climate change has doubled the amount of acreage burned since 1984.

Researchers from the University of Idaho and Columbia University found that further warming will accelerate the trend in the future. Study co-author John Abatzoglou, a professor of geography at the University of Idaho, said the changing climate has increased what scientists call "fuel aridity."

"Since climate change has basically shifted our fuels to being drier than they would have been in the absence of climate change," he said, "we use that relationship to get an estimate of the additional area that has burned due to man-made climate change."

The study found that natural variability in weather patterns has combined with climate change to compound the problem. Last year, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation spent nearly $11 million fighting fires.

Abatzoglou said people in the West are going to have to live with the new reality of more forest fires.

 "The takeaway is that large fire seasons are inevitable; climate change will make them even more inevitable," he said. "So, for people who live in the western United States that have to live in areas that burn or in airsheds that are filled with smoke, we need to find a way to cope with it - and one way to cope with it is by coping with climate change."

 The authors also supported efforts to clear out dead wood to reduce the fuel load, but acknowledged that the matter is complex, because fallen trees provide important habitat for wildlife. In addition, successful firefighting techniques have "saved" some forests and allowed dead wood to pile up, thus making them more vulnerable to a mega-fire.

 The access site for the report is at

Big Sky Connection

Eric Tegethoff

October 12, 2016

HELENA, Mont. - Kelly Elder, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at C.R. Anderson Middle School in Helena, has been selected as the 2017 Montana Teacher of the Year, the highest honor for teachers in the Treasure State.

Elder, who has been teaching in Montana for two decades, said he gets to use current events to connect with kids and uses hands-on research projects to teach his students about the world. He said he works hard to connect with every student in the classroom and that teachers can rely on each other to make all the students at school feel welcome.

"I would say your most successful schools in Montana or anywhere in the world are going to be those where every student that comes in the doors connects with someone, some adult within that building and feels a desire to belong, to learn, to grow and to be a better person," he said.

Elder, along with two other finalists, will be honored at the annual MEA-MFT Educators' Conference on Oct. 20 in Helena. The state's Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation.

Elder said he owes a lot to his colleagues because teaching is a collaborative effort. He said the profession is extremely demanding, leading to burnout for some new teachers, but added that those who have been in the profession for a long time can lend support to their new colleagues.

"We as a profession need to do more to make sure we're sharing what we know," he said, "and helping them to connect with students, helping them get on their feet, helping shoulder some of the burden of coaching and lesson-planning and all the extracurricular things that can really bog you down when you're learning to teach."

Elder also leads rides for the Dynamos Mountain Biking Club, a youth mountain biking program for students from around Helena, and is a student council adviser.

Photo's are of Sam DeBree.
One with scary make-up and one without.
By Diane Larson

From the time he was very young, Sam DeBree, special effects expert and haunted house aficionado, loved all things associated with monsters and haunted houses.

He was about 4 or 5 when his parents took him to see his first haunted house. “Of course I screamed and cried all the way through, yet I was fascinated.” Sam said, “I became hooked on horror movies and scary things.”

As he grew up Sam’s love of all things scary never wavered. He kept his interest in special effects, make-up. He continued to learn what he could, “I wanted to make monsters,” said Sam.

In college Sam specialized in film and video production with an emphasis on make-up. He continued his education by being an apprentice and with internships. He moved to California and worked with a special effects company for 3 years. But he missed Montana so he moved to Butte.

After his move to Butte, Sam did some seasonal work for an amusement park in Colorado in their haunted house. He would spend 2, to possibly 6 weeks or even more at the amusement park doing special effects and haunted house work. The park closed several years ago.

Sam still does some special effects work for theater and film occasionally as he receives requests for his expertise.

When Sam moved to Butte he decided to create a haunted house for Halloween out of his home. He ran that for about 5 or 6 years, but it got to big and needed to be moved. Five years ago, Sam approached Jim Jarvis who was the historic preservation officer at the time and asked, “Would the city be interested in letting me do a haunted house on some of their property.” Jarvis was enthusiastic and said that he felt it would be a great idea.

They looked at several properties around town and none of them were quite suited for what they had in mind as a proper venue; at least not until they looked at The Original Mineyard. The Original had everything they needed to create something big for this community.

Sam went to work with Mike Kujawa the Head of the Art Department at Butte High school on creating The Original Nightmare.

2016 marks the fifth year for this particular haunted experience. Sam promises that it will not disappoint. Each year, since the first Original Nightmare it has grown in every way; in participants, effects, and events. “We’ve gone from simple Halloween masks to high end silicone masks, the illusions change, develop and evolve,” says Sam.

The Original Nightmare is completely done with volunteers. The art club and other students from Butte High, as well as several adults from around Butte, come together to create a wonderful Halloween memory for everyone to experience.

It takes over 100 people to make it all happen from the time they begin to build everything to the three nights that it is open. Each night of the Nightmare there are anywhere from 60 to 70 actors who have to be put into costume and make-up applied. Besides the actors, on site there are also the make-up artists, chaperones, security, technicians and a light and sound company.

Sam said that the team, the kids, the teachers and other volunteers that come together are very creative. It is a labor of love for all involved. He said that a project such as The Original Nightmare could only happen here. “I could not do this in any other community, I’ve lived in Helena, I’ve lived in Los Angeles, and I’ve lived in Bozeman, Colorado Springs. What we do here could not be done in any of those places,” said Sam. When asked why Sam said, “Butte really embraces its community, and for these local events they really try to foster the growth of them.”

Montana Pro Audio provides light and sound. Lions Club will provide a food truck for refreshments.

Sam explained what last year’s event was like. The show begins while you are standing in line to buy your ticket with a beheading by guillotine on the Original stage. Kujawa has created a guillotine illusion that is the header (pun intended) of the show. One participant from last year exclaimed, “It was freaky.”

Once you acquired your ticket you entered a maze and were chased or followed by aliens to the first building that has various chills, thrills and scary things all in that first building. Next, you entered a second maze, this one bigger and a bit confusing with false exits and what not. In the second maze you ran into several creatures such as monsters, zombies and ghouls until you reached the second house. The second and bigger house was separated into several rooms, each room containing a new and unique chilling tale that is different from the last.

In 2015 3,000 people went through the haunted houses and expecting more this year. There is no singular theme determined as they like having a variety of themes. Sam did say they were bringing back the clowns.

The Original Nightmare is for all ages, however, Sam does warn that it is a haunted house and there will be blood and other scary images. It is a PG house.

It is a lengthy experie
nce and all for only $5.00. The price is kept intentionally low so that everyone can participate regardless of income.

To make The Original Nightmare happen, each year letters are sent out to local businesses asking for donations. Those donations are used to buy the equipment that in turn is used to create everything for the haunted houses. The money from ticket sales each year goes directly to a charity. Because of their huge commitment to the event and all their hard work and creativity the money will go to Butte High Art Club.  

This year’s event will be October 28, 29, and 31. (The 30th is a Sunday and will not be open) Each night the gates open at 7:00 pm and close at 11:00 pm.

Sam said that the community of Butte is amazing to work with, so generous with time, materials and money to make this happen. “I want to include that I’m very grateful to everybody that participates at every level whether its expertise, materials, and donations for the haunted house and to all the people that come.”