THE LOCAL NEWS OF THE MADISON VALLEY, RUBY VALLEY AND SURROUNDING AREAS

The interior of Black Jack Ranch Gallery, on Main Street in Ennis. The gallery will be a part of the Evening of Art on Friday, June 15 and will host its grand opening on Saturday, June 16 at 4 p.m. (Submitted photo)Black Jack Ranch Gallery opening director and featured artist Ellie Thompson holds one of her handmade sterling silver belt buckles, featuring a cutthroat trout. Her buckles feature materials found in Montana, like sterling silver and Montana sapphires. (Reagan Colyer photo)

Black Jack Ranch Gallery opens June 16

Ennis’s newest art gallery will host Art Walk, grand opening

ENNIS - The newest gallery on Ennis’s Main Street will be opening just in time for the summer season.

Black Jack Ranch Gallery, owned by Jack Sammis, will be part of the Evening of Art walk on Friday, June 15 and will host its official grand opening the next day, June 16. In addition to its brick-and-mortar space at 219 Main Street, BJR will also host an extensive online gallery in order to display the works of its fourteen artists.

“We really wanted to have a broad range of points of view about western art and subject matter and how it’s portrayed,” says opening director Ellie Thompson, who is also one of the artists featured in the gallery. Her jewelry and belt buckles are made with Montana materials, such as sterling silver and sapphires.

Also on display in the gallery are paintings from noted western artists Steve Seltzer, Todd Connor and Michael Maydak. Photographer Ken Hall’s work is featured, as are bronze sculptures by Skull Society artist Greg Kelsey and Ennis native David Lemon. 

Four of the gallery’s 14 artists are members of the C.M. Russell Skull Society of Artists, a high honor in western art, especially for Montanans. Founded in 2013, the Skull Society of Artists is an outreach of the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls. It acknowledges the work of western artists whose work celebrates the themes of the legendary painter, and currently comprises 22 artists in total. 

The C.M. Russell Museum and the Skull Society of Artists are both near to the heart of gallery owner Jack Sammis. A proud supporter of the museum and honored to feature the works of Skull Society artists, Sammis places huge import in allowing art inspired by and produced in the west to be seen as widely as possible.

“The vision with the gallery was to open a small space with well-known artists of American art,” he says. “I’m a big fan of the C.M. Russell Museum and their support of the arts here in Montana.”

Sammis calls Ennis the “pearl of Montana.” He owns a ranch just outside of town in Jeffers: Black Jack Ranch, which inspired the name of the gallery. His goal is to attract a nationwide—and eventually, global—audience with the gallery’s combination of online and in-person art displays, hopefully encouraging people to come to the Madison Valley and experience the inspirations for western art for themselves.

Inside, rather than grouping art by who created it, pieces are oriented so that the subject matter creates a cohesive flow for viewers as they move through the gallery. Cohesiveness is an important element of the interior, for which Thompson did the design. Furniture and the gallery’s wooden fixtures featuring their cattle-brand logo were made by Seth Bond of Polaris, Montana. Keeping the space true to the state has been an important element.

“It’s all about making connections,” Thompson says. “If you can do that for people, you’ve done something special.”

Black Jack Ranch Gallery will be open to visitors on Friday, June 15 as part of the Ennis Evening of Art from 5-8 p.m. It will be featured along with Artists on Main, Cattleman Gallery and Gallery287. The official grand opening and ribbon cutting will take place on Saturday, June 16, at 4 p.m.

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