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A Billings artist who is sculpting life-size triceratops heads and a Red Lodge artist who takes nostalgic fiber pieces and “turns them on their ear” won 2015 Artist Innovation Awards from the Montana Arts Council.

Louis Habeck, a 27-year-old Billings artist, and Maggy Rozycki Hiltner, 40, of Red Lodge, are among eight Montana artists receiving the $3,000 award. The award is funded through the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Habeck and Hiltner were both resident artists in the Yellowstone Art Museum’s Visible Vault in 2015.

"When I met Louis, I thought, 'Wow, he's weird like me," Hiltner said. "What he does is not your usual thing."

Between April and June, Habeck worked on sculpting a life-size dinosaur head in the YAM's Visible Vault. He was a big hit with youngsters attending summer classes at the YAM.

Habeck is almost finished with his first triceratops head, which measures 4-feet by 6-feet but will weigh only 50 to 60 pounds after it is cast in plastic resin.

"It's so close. I've been carving scales for the last three months for four or five or sometimes eight hours a day. I'll finish the mold tomorrow," Habeck said Sunday.

His idea is to create a series of dinosaur heads and then use the massive frills as canvases in which to paint.

Habeck said he will use his cash award to pay for materials. An upcoming show in 2016 at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., will focus on his process, which began with research about triceratops and sketches of a fossilized triceratops head.

This award is reassurance from the arts community that his work is valued, he said.

“It’s nice that they have renewed my confidence in myself,” Habeck said.

Hiltner, who moved to Red Lodge 10 years ago, uses vintage imagery and traditional techniques, including embroidery, to create complex art that makes a statement about the world. 

"It's intimidating to talk about the world right now. There's a lot of pressure, and I want to do a good job," Hiltner said.

Hiltner finished her residency in the YAM’s Visible Vault in November. Her hand-stitched collaged embroidery piece “Vantage Point,” which measures 288 square-feet, will be on exhibit at the Lawrence Arts Center in Kansas and at the Bellevue Arts Museum in Washington. In 2017, Hiltner will have a solo exhibit at the Missoula Art Museum. She plans to use her cash award to pay for an assistant to help her with her work.

Hiltner exhibits works at the Toucan Gallery in Billings and at galleries in Helena and Bozeman, but she said it’s a challenge to show contemporary art in Montana where animal art is more accepted.

“There aren’t a lot of venues in Montana that show my contemporary art,” Hiltner said. “If there are bears or moose or deer in my work, they are kind of weird or doing odd things. That's why it's so great to be accented by the Montana Arts Council.”

Other Montana award winners are ceramicist Steven Lee of Helena; performer Jack Gladstone and sculptor Kate Hunt from Kalispell; and poet Heather Cahoon, writer Deidre McNamer and performer Jeremy Sher from Missoula. Lee is the recipient of the Jessie Wilber and Frances Senska Individual Artist Award, which received funding from Stacy Hamm and Sage Walden.

This honor rewards Montana artists who demonstrate innovation in their work as well as originality and dedication in their creative pursuits. The Montana Arts Council established this award program in order to foster environments where the innovation and creativity of artists are valued and celebrated.



Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.