Saturday, May 26, 2012


I've always had a fascination with old grain elevators. There is one in Missoula that I admired for years and, as luck would have it, was where my art studio was for five years (see a painting of it here). One of my favorite artists, Robert Schlegel, paints a lot of grain elevators...that was how I came to love and admire his paintings. If he never painted grain elevators, I may have never noticed him! Well, mostly likely I would have (because he's amazing!) but sometimes I think about what draws me to an artist and most of the time they're creating a work of art depicting something I LOVE.

Sooooooooooooo....back on topic here...I love grain elevators and they are becoming more and more scarce across the country. Many aren't used anymore and are then torn down or burned because they start to present hazards (which is understandable since rotting wood can make a giant building with 3-4 floors very dangerous). If fact, close to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada there were over 1600 grain elevators in the 1960's. Today there are fewer than 70.

Someone I know moved to the Midwest recently and isn't happy there. Mind you, he's relocating from Missoula (the most beautiful city, in my opinion) and has expressed how hot, flat, and ugly it is. While I can understand why he is miserable, I started thinking about how I would feel if I was living in a place so foreign from 'home'. Would I be miserable? Would I be lonely? Or would I still find beauty around me...partly because I'm in Grain Elevator heaven???? After all, the largest modern elevator is in Kansas and Enid, OK has the greatest amount of grain storage in the united states. (yes, I REALLY like grain elevators!) Considering that the Great Plains yields the greatest grain harvest, there are no shortages of finding a few grain elevators from Eastern MT & North Dakota to Texas.

I did this painting thinking back to how he feels. All alone in a flat harsh landscape, away from the place he loves most and empty and sad inside much like this elevator as it now stands alone in a place once dotted with numerous homesteads and elevators that housed a yearly crop. The harvest is now stored elsewhere, leaving this building empty inside, but it stands proudly and defiant against weather and time.


Anonymous said...

I love the pictures of your horses. You are very talented.

Kim Shirley said...

Thank you!

Ryan Carpentier said...

Yes, great work.