New artists and diverse offerings brought a new energy to the Yellowstone Art Museum's opening Thursday night of the 44th annual art auction show, "Wild in Montana."

At times, the crowd of over 100 people became boisterous looking at the 200 new works that are up on both floors of the YAM.

Linda Ewert, education director of the YAM, said it felt good to see so many young people at an art opening.

"Art matters to all generations. That's why we work so hard with our education programming," Ewert said.

The youngest contributing artist, Senior High School senior Ellen Kuntz, has two digital photographs in the silent auction portion of the show. One of the photographs shows a young woman standing in front of the neon motel sign.

"The light was just perfect," Kuntz said of the work.

Another first-timer, Michelle Dyk, also has two photographs in the silent auction. Her works show roller derby women in ripped fishnets and roller skates at downtown locations, including one shot taken behind the Babcock Theatre on the "stairs to nowhere."

Dyk and Kuntz's works join artwork by renowned artists like Ted Waddell and Neil Jussila, who have works in the live auction.

At least two works sold for full value Thursday in the silent auction. Hopes are high that the YAM will raise $260,000 with the auction to cover about 20 percent of its annual budget. The show is up through March 3 when the art auction party is held at the YAM. For information about the art auction party, call 256-6804, ext. 236.

Contact Jaci Webb at 657-1359 or jwebb@billingsgazette.com

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