Learn the stories behind Helena’s many outdoor murals

December 11, 2017 - Independent Record

If “art is the signature of civilizations,” as Grammy award-winning opera singer Beverly Sills is famously quoted as saying, Helena is just about as civilized as it gets. Not only is Helena home to the Archie Bray Foundation, the Holter Museum of Art and several other renowned arts organizations, it also boasts a large collection of outdoor art on display for the world to enjoy. Here are some of our favorite outdoor murals in Helena.

150th Anniversary Mural

Created by Dennis McCahon and Janet Welsh, the brightly colored mural on the north wall of Performance Square on the Downtown Walking Mall celebrates Helena’s landscape and distinctive historic architecture. It was dedicated during Helena’s 150th anniversary celebration in 2014.
Thom Bridge, Independent Record

Anti-meth mural

Graffiti artist Cole Kerby painted the bold and bright anti-meth mural at the Helena Housing Authority in 2016. A flamboyant rainbow of colors, the mural on Billings Avenue depicts some of Helena’s most prominent landmarks — the surrounding mountains, the Cathedral of St. Helena, Helena Civic Center and the Capitol. Arching overhead is the slogan “Not Even Once” and “Not in Our House” — with the banner Montana Meth Project below. The mural was a joint project of the Montana Meth Project and Helena Housing Authority.
Marga Lincoln, Independent Record

Women’s Mural

Painted in 1979 upon the plaster wall of the Livestock Building facing Broadway, the 3,000-square-foot Women’s Mural depicts the roles of women throughout the history of Helena. It was painted by Delores Dinsmore, Ann Appleby and Marilyn Sternberg.
Eliza Wiley, Independent Record

Memorial Park band shell

Completed in 2010, the mural in the Veterans Memorial Park band shell was funded with $18,500 of federal stimulus money. The images of trees and flowers that had provided the backdrop in the band shell for more than a decade were replaced by depictions of several of the city’s iconic structures — the Cathedral of St. Helena, the fire tower and the state Capitol. Lewistown artist Carol Poppenga, whose proposal was unanimously selected out of 11 submissions, also painted soldiers on the wings of the band shell and colored its front arches red, white and blue.
Eliza Wiley, Independent Record

United Way building

What was once a bland, gray wall on the side of the United Way building at Lyndale and Logan now features the faces of an East Indian baby, a black toddler, a white teenager, an East Asian adult and an American Indian elder. A group of young artists from the Holter Museum of Art completed the mural in 2015. They used the tree roots to connect the people. The key words became leaves sprouting on the tree.
Thom Bridge, Independent Record

Jackson Street parking garage

Although the Last Chance Gulch gold rush died down around 100 years ago, a new miner arrived in Helena in 2017 in the form of a mural downtown. The graffiti-style mural on the Jackson Street parking garage’s north side features a mustachioed 40-foot-tall miner panning for gold. Commissioned by Helena’s public art committee, the spray painted mural went up over the course of two days. The Connecticut-based artist, Ryan “ARCY” Christenson, won the art committee’s $5,000 bid for the downtown mural with his submission of “The Miner,” which he hopes will hit home with locals by reflecting the history of Helena.
Thom Bridge, thom.bridge@helenair.com

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