Harold Schlotzhauer, “The Shape of Motion”

Montana artist shares playful works at the Yellowstone Art Museum

Art Beat
"The Young Militant" by Harold Schlotzhauer
“The Young Militant” by Harold Schlotzhauer, whose work is on display at the YAMPhoto © Harold Schlotzhauer

Harold Schlotzhauer, whose work is on display at the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings through July 3, is one of the region’s most prolific and distinctive artists. With decades of experience behind him, he continues to explore the intersection between the observable and the imagined, creating a vivid visual language that soars beyond the edges of the picture plane.

Schlotzhauer’s approach is bold and playful, but dazzlingly serious in its intent to create engaging images that make the intangible real. Shapes, lines, and sweeping color dance together in choreographed movement to elicit a personal response from the viewer. His visual language is inspired by myriad sources, including the traditional Asian arts, graffiti, children’s toys, and the rhythms of nature.

The Montana State University art professor emeritus earned a BFA and MFA from California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, and taught at MSU from 1980-2008. His work has been shown at museums and galleries across Montana and the U.S., and internationally in Italy, England, Canada and Japan.

Since his retirement in 2008, Schlotzhauer has continued painting at his longtime Bozeman studio, which overlooks his home in the Gallatin Valley. This bold exhibition comprises colorful paintings, sculptures, kites, and various embellished skateboards, snowboards, balanceboards, and surfboards.

“I am interested in the fluid boundaries between abstraction and representation,” he writes. “My art is a journey to a place created by the imagination and influenced by the extreme polarities of objective and non-objective configuration …”

“I want a curious ambiguousness to be present and long for the viewer to participate in the pleasure of imagining the possibilities.”

His exhibit at the YAM is part of the museum’s Montana Masters Series.

Skateboard design competition

Design a skateboard for YAM exhibit
Design a skateboard for YAM exhibit

As an adjunct to the Yellowstone Art Museum’s exhibition “The Shape of Motion,” which features many sports decks including skateboards, the museum announces an open call to all area skateboarders living in south-central Montana to compete in 360°, a skateboard design competition and exhibition.

Application forms and design templates are available at the museum’s front reception desk or can be downloaded from the museum’s web site: artmuseum.org. All completed entries must be received by the museum no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 26. All family-friendly entries will be exhibited on the gallery walls May 3-29.

Museum visitors will judge entries, which will be accepted in three age categories: 5-12, 13-17, and 18 and older. The winner in each category will receive a fully-loaded skateboard with their winning design applied to the deck. Winners will be announced at a public event at the Billings Skate Park at date in June to be announced. Participants need not be present to win.

Museum members and the public alike are invited to visit the museum, cast a vote for their favorite designs, and view the museum’s other exhibitions.

So put your imagination to work and have some fun riding the edge of local skateboard culture. To get the creative juices rolling, be sure to visit “The Shape of Motion,” on view through July 3.