The Chrysalis

The Billings Artwalk has never been so vibrant. With nearly 40 galleries to explore, each with a plate of art that continues to change, Artwalk is no longer a strolling affair. It’s a marathon.

Autumn’s annual Artwalk, held this year on Oct. 2, is rich with new works. Art seemingly busts from its creators this time of year, a symptom of the falling leaves, or perhaps remainders of summer’s playful imprint.

To name just a few (as my art marathon was focused on a few specific artists), art enthusiasts could enjoy Louis Habeck’s molded vignettes of skin samples at the Good Earth Market—the muddled wrinkled segments painted in creatively unrealistic ways set amongst Emily Davidson’s wickedly playful and lucid paintings of creatures in aquatic tones. Cartoonist Jason Jam’s devilish monsters in pencil were crawling off the walls of the Carlin Building, while his wife Wendy’s mandalas gave a more grounding vibe. Next door Connie Dillon’s three-dimensional paintings with miniature scenes were so rich and tempting, you could almost leap into them. At Del Alma Gallery, Kevin Rose’s calming scapes of abstract impressionism made me want to curl up and sip IPAs all night and just stare at the rolling monochromatic textures. Across the street at Better To Gather was perhaps the most eccentric collection on this particular artwalk: a living art installation featuring human canvases.

Billings-based artists Michelle Dyk and April Dawn took on the subject of metamorphosis for the installation, titled “The Chrysalis.” The display, visible from the shop’s window facing Montana Avenue, featured four models treated as living canvases, their body art progressing inside as Artwalk took place.

Dyk concepted the installation to feature a surreal setting of aspen poles and a glowing chrysalis, set against a dark backdrop. Dyk’s models were painted in earth tones to resembled tree gods covered in moss with long branch-like fingers. One could imagine them crawling from the cocoon, their whimsical bodies just beginning to stretch out in the scene. Dawn painted two models with geometric patterns and donned them with floral headpieces. The two painted women, one who was nearly nine months pregnant, resembled Grecian goddesses rich with life, temptation, and fantasy.

Artwalkers strolled throughout the installation, interacting with the in-process and finished people, watching the art unfold. “There was a lot of traffic,” Dyk said. “People seemed to enjoy and be intrigued by the living art dynamic.”

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