Prairie Reserve (copy)

A herd of bison move through land controlled by the American Prairie Reserve south of Malta in April 2012. 

The Open AIR artist in residency program has launched its call for applications for 2023.

The nonprofit program, which places creators of all mediums at host sites around western Montana, has expanded its list of locations. This year includes the American Prairie complex in central Montana; two new Missoula sites; and one in Hamilton.

“There’s so many exciting places around Montana that it’s hard not to envision artists in them,” said Stoney Samsoe, the executive director.

The winter season in Yellowstone National Park begins Dec. 15. Conditions permitting, most park roads will open to oversnow travel by snowmobile and snowcoach. Annually from mid-December until mid-March, visitors travel most of the park’s roads by commercially guided snowmobiles and snowcoaches and via the non-commercially guided snowmobile access program.

The returning sites include the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station, the Moon-Randolph Homestead and a remote cabin in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Besides getting time to create, the artists will give public presentations of their work.

Last year, there were around 120 applicants and Samsoe anticipates more for 2023, as people may have likely cleared their plates from post-pandemic projects.

“We’re excited to continue supporting Montana-based artists as well as inviting talent in from around the nation and even overseas,” Samsoe said.

Here are the new additions. To see the full list, see what options are for the spring, summer and fall sessions, or more application information, go to The deadline is Feb. 1.

American Prairie

(Oct. 1-17)

The nonprofit conservation group is patching together hundreds of thousands of acres of private and public grassland around the Upper Missouri River Breaks and C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge with the goal of creating a natural prairie for wild bison.

“A lot of our work is interested in ecologically significant issues and certainly the work they’re doing to stitch together pieces of land to open it up for prairie is absolutely inside of that arena,” Samsoe said. “They’re working with community partners and collaborators and that resonates with our vision and work.”

The AP has hosted artist residencies over the past 21 years, according to Corrie Williamson, its senior outreach manager.

“Open AIR's vision of connecting artists to communities and places by emphasizing and exposing them to the cultural, ecological, and historic value of a site is a perfect fit for American Prairie, where we strive to honor and share the landscape as well as protect it. The prairie is an inspiring place, and we are excited to share it,” Williamson said in an email.

The nonprofit reserve is different from many of the Open AIR sites for logistical reasons. They hope to have three artists who, after making introductions at the headquarters in Lewistown, will head out to PN section and stay in yurts. In the latter half, they’ll be guided across the reserve to the Enrico Education and Science Center.

It’s a shorter residency, and so they’re looking to do a follow-up site visit the next spring, with a follow-up exhibition or performance the year after that.

Garden City Harvest

(May 2-June 24)

The Missoula nonprofit will host artists at its neighborhood farm and community garden in the River Road neighborhood, a move that was several years in the making.

Hamilton, Montana

(July 5-Aug. 12)

Explore the ARTS, a nonprofit arts space, is hosting a residency that’s open-ended and gives artist wide range of potential projects and ideas.

Open AIR has a similar option in Philipsburg, for instance, where artists can work on projects related to that community rather than a specific host organization or place.

Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium

(Sept. 2 -Oct. 21)

The Butterfly House and Insectarium will open its new building on the Missoula Community Fairgrounds next summer. The creative source material will include a “2,300-square-foot exhibit space featuring live arthropods, a 2,500-square-foot immersion greenhouse filled with tropical plants and free-flying butterflies, and a 900-square-foot classroom,” according to the news release.