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Mysterious art piece reflects salon's approach
Kathy Hedges, owner of Aqua Studio and Salon in Billings, stands by a large sliding door in her salon Wednesday. The door is a piece of art she acquired, but she does not know the artist.

There's a mystery at the Aqua Studio and Salon.

A piece of art about 6 by 8 feet hangs on the wall. It appears to be a door, possibly from a meat locker, and is painted in stunning shades of brown. Kathy Hedges, owner of Aqua, although her business card also identifies her as "Hair Goddess," has owned the piece for about a year after buying it from Kim DeBourg, who owned Indulgence in the Rue D'Artistes building.

And no one knows where it came from.

"Honestly, I had an interior designer who did that store, and I don't know exactly who made that door," DeBourg said. "I know it was made out of all recycled materials. I don't know a lot more about it."

Hedges fell in love with the piece when she saw it, and when she opened her own salon, DeBourg offered to sell her the work.

"Everything revolved around that door, believe it or not," Hedges said.

From the brown marble floor to the shade of aquamarine paint on the wall that neatly complements the brown, Hedges designed her dream business to match the door. She's not done yet, but she thinks everything is starting to come together.

"It's evolving in here," she said. "It's finally becoming what it's going to become, but it's taking its time."

Aqua isn't just a salon. And the mystery door isn't alone on its walls. Hedges hosts exhibits by local artists on a bi-monthly schedule. Currently, paintings by Kristin Jurist are on display. Next month, the salon-studio will feature photography.

In addition to offering salon services and art displays, Aqua also hosts yoga and Pilates classes from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Hedges also offers seminars on health and well being every three months.

"We want to encompass it all," she said.

Artwork in a salon is not a new idea. In her years as a Redken trainer, she traveled to many different salons and was exposed to a variety of art. "It's not unheard of," she said. "It's just new in Montana."

A Billings resident even during her travels as a trainer, Hedges delights in bringing her experiences back to her hometown.

"I just want to expose people to different things and different cultures," she said. "To bring the big city here - the look and feel, anyway."

But, she said, "it always comes back to this door."

The heavy door took three people an hour and a half to get from Montana Avenue to Aqua at 3429 Central Ave., Suite D. It is now a focal point of the studio, with a place of honor on the wall.

"Actually, when we were building, there were people who wanted to buy it," Hedges said. "People ask all the time where it came from or at least who did it."

With no signature on the front or back, the artist remains a mystery.

"It is somebody from around here," Hedges said.

And she has an offer for the anonymous artist. "We put all kinds of different artists in here," she said. "We'd love to put up more of his pieces."