Gratitude Monday

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving I got a call from my friend Erika, the Arts Editor at the Independent. She was needing some stories for the issue that ran just this past week (the Indy is our local independent paper that publishes every Thursday), and gave me a choice of one of several options to run with. I decided to take a stab at a piece on an artist from Wyoming named Patrick Kikut who would be having an art opening at a local gallery this past Friday. The main reason I chose it is that I haven’t done anything on visual art before, and it seemed a challenge and an opportunity to explore an area I’m not overly familiar with.

That piece ran, as I said, this past Thursday. You can read it online; it’s short, and there isn’t anything particularly special about it, nor is it necessarily my best work. But I like it anyway. Here’s why.

I’m very grateful for the place I am artistically these days. An opportunity like this with the Indy allows me to interact with people I may not otherwise. I’m not sure I “get” modern visual art very often, but Patrick sent me an email after the story ran and thanked me profusely for it. As did the gallery owner. That almost never happens, and it kind of touched me. Patrick had driven up from Laramie, WY, to install his art and be on hand for the opening. It was terrible weather — the coldest we’ve had in some time — but Missoulians were still out in, if not force, at least decent numbers. I braved a stiff wind that had to have the temperatures well into the double-digits below zero to cross the Higgins bridge afoot and see his work. I introduced myself and Patrick and I had an excellent conversation about everything from road trips, the nature of creativity, and the role criticism plays in shaping us as artists and thinkers.

I feel like I’m pretty lucky to have the opportunity to interact with so many interesting, talented people. I do my best to not lose sight of that, though it’s easy to get self-absorbed and forget when things don’t seem to be going too well with my own work. If I ever seem to be sliding in that direction, don’t be shy about kicking my ass back in line via the comments section. I’m counting on you people. . . .


Author: Chris

Chris La Tray is a writer, a walker, and a photographer. He is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives in Missoula, MT.

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