BIG SKY – Nearly $1 million in art was up for auction Thursday night in Big Sky including moccasins worn by one of the most recognizable names in Native American history.
Just beyond the Big Sky Rodeo stadium is a tent filled with what started as a simple idea.
“It kind of dawned on me one day, you see all these construction trucks driving up from the valley every day to build all these beautiful homes in Big Sky and people have to decorate them,” said Eric Ladd.
Ladd, with OUTLAW production, started the art auction three years ago – and the idea has taken off.
Inventory doubling from last year
“We’ve got some very recognizable names,” said Ladd. “We’ve got some collectors’ pieces, like Sitting Bull’s moccasins so it is something to be paid attention to.”
“I’m familiar with the art auction but I didn’t realize they had such a significant piece here,” said one patron.
Everything included in the show has a tie to the community, which has always been a focus of the event according to Ladd.
A portion of proceeds on certain items will go to local nonprofits like Yellowstone Forever. But even the pieces which don’t fund a charity will see the money stay in state because so many of the artists are Montanans.
Like Peace, from Red Lodge, who created a mixed media piece featuring his father, his namesake.
“It means he steals guns from two enemy camps,” Peace said of his father’s name.
Peace says he’s proud of his work and hopes whoever the buyer is will see much more than just art.
“I’m not just in the game of painting pretty pictures,” Peace said. “I’m in here to a give a message and come in with open arms and open eyes and hope other people are doing the same.”
Since the Big Sky Rodeo began, more than $600,000 has been raised for local charities through the art auction, golf tournament, and other events during the annual week-long event.