Art of the Prairie: Montana’s Historic Grain Elevators

Exhibit by Bruce Selyem, June Billings Safford & Vern Hall

Towering cathedrals spot Montana’s expansive landscape like pinpoints of time. The grain elevators that remain scattered along railroad tracks throughout Montana and North America are relics of a simpler time when agriculture was the driving force of human existence.

Weaver Room Gallery
June 12 – October 2, 2015

About the Work

These grand structures were erected strictly for functionality and served as the first stop for a farmer’s grain to get to market. They were also a meeting place for farmers to exchange stories and information, which at times was the only communication farmers had with one another that year.

Now, what few remain are left as empty shells containing only history, slowly disintegrating into the background. Montana grain elevators are becoming increasingly obsolete as needs change, equipment fails or leases become unaffordable. Many are being destroyed as liability becomes a threat or modern facilities are built in its place. Few people notice these silent symbols of American history and even less work for their protection.

Artists are preservationists of sorts. They capture their experiences through a lens or with the stroke of a brush with hopes of conveying their appreciation for a particular moment in time. The three artists represented in Art of the Prairie: Montana’s Historical Grain Elevators share the same affinity for grain elevators as icons of the west. They’ve created several depictions of these structures not only for their own artistic expression but to shine a light on the decline of agriculture in America and most of all to preserve the stories and memories of the people associated with it.