Skyview Wins 2009 War of the Walls Competition


Meet the Artists

Blake Davis – Skyview High School

Blake Davis has been an artist since day one.  From coloring books as a toddler to a tin-foil creation she made in the fourth grade of a horse, art was always there.

Davis, 18, is a senior at Skyview High School and the artist behind this year’s mural at the Billings Heights MasterLube at 1331 Main Street.  Each year, a new design is chosen for the mural through a parent committee and then painted on the building.  This year, Davis’ parents, Wes and Rhonda Davis, her sister and their two best friends helped her paint the giant piece.

Her design is a picturesque profile of a falcon with careful, artistic attention to the feathers and eye. “I found a nice falcon head on the Internet and I drew it and colored it.  I just wanted to keep it simple, but realistic,” she says.  The mural also features the class motto “Remember Yesterday, Live for Today, Dream for Tomorrow.”  While discussing her choice for the design, she explains “my artwork represents me, in the details of it, and my school in the symbols of it.”

Davis credits her artistic influence to Ms. Rose at Castle Rock School, and Mr. Cottrill and Ms. Mysse, both at Skyview, and her parents.  “My whole family is artistic and we work on projects together,” she says.  They enjoy doing landscaping, church projects and home improvement work as a family.

Davis plans to maintain her work in art when she continues her education next year at Montana State University Billings by minoring in Art while majoring in Accounting.  In the mean time, she plans to go to Kauai for a family vacation this summer and get a job.

When she is not working in art, Davis is also a deaconess at Heights Baptist Church and enjoys hiking, reading, camping and ranch work.  Having been in Billings her whole life, she also has a strong interest in animals, especially horses, and is involved in the Skyview Rodeo Club where she serves as its Secretary.

As for the tin-foil horse from the fourth grade, she still has the piece and it serves as a continuous reminder of her love of animals and the world of art.


Katie Dempkowski – Laurel High School

Art may not have been her first love, but it certainly has always been an interest for Katie Dempkowski of Laurel.

Dempkowski, 18, is a senior at Laurel High School and designed this year’s school mural at the MasterLube at 8th and Broadwater in Billings.  Since this is the first year Laurel has participated in the mural paintings on MasterLube locations, Dempkowski stepped up to the challenge and designed an image so her school could participate in the projects.  She drew the concept herself and says “I looked at different trains to get a basic idea. I just thought it would be a neat way to represent our school.”

Since she has always liked to draw, the project came together easily.  Then, in late April, she put the final pieces together and she, a few friends and a friend’s mom, painted the giant final project.

When speaking of her artistic influences, Dempkowski credits her aunt and uncle as being very artistic and remembers viewing several pieces of their work.

Since moving here from Beaumont, Texas in 2006, Dempkowski says she enjoys Montana.  “It’s different,” she says, “there is just different things to do and it’s smaller.  But I like it.”

But she has found her new love in writing; a hobby that, she explains, is the main thing she enjoys doing right now and an interest that she plans on pursuing as a career. Her immediate future plans involve attending University of Montana this fall and majoring in journalism.  “I took a journalism class my sophomore year of school and I just thought I would really like to go into that,” she says.  She is also considering minoring in Spanish because she figures it could be an asset to obtaining a job in journalism.

But until fall comes and she heads to Missoula, Dempkowski hopes to visit Texas this summer and plans on working as a lifeguard at the Laurel city pool.

Katie is the daughter of Duane and Cindy Rehling of Laurel.


Kaleigh Bauer – Billings West High School

Family outings have always meant more then a stroll around town or visiting a new city to Kaleigh Bauer.

Her parents, Keith and Debbie Bauer of Billings, have always made a point to encourage her artistic expression by pointing out architecture, paintings, and taking her to view artwork. Even on vacations, the family plans a day just for viewing galleries.

Bauer, 18, a senior at West High, has designed this year’s school mural at the MasterLube at 2424 King Ave W.  “It just came together kind of quickly,” she says when asked how she came up with the design.  The project features the modern, graffiti look that she was going for with its initial concept.  “I didn’t want to do a typical brown bear,” she says.  But still wanting to represent the school’s mascot in the painting, she decided to create a silhouette instead, using West’s black and gold colors.  And although the design is primarily finished, Bauer is always imagining new ideas. “I’m thinking of having some seniors come and sign it and write messages and stuff too,” she says.

Bauer knew she would do something in the world of art since she was a little girl.  She was always doodling and later took art classes in school.  As she got older, she discovered the area of graphic design and now spends a great deal of time at the computer learning design software.  This field of art has also influenced her collegiate decision; she plans to attend either Montana State University in Bozeman or the Art Institute in Denver, majoring in either Graphic Design or Design Management.  Design Management, she explains, incorporates the artistic and business side of graphic design and project management.  “I’m really good at bossing people around,” she jokes.  Bauer hopes to use her degree to eventually land her dream job as a graphic artist.

In addition to her higher education pursuits, Bauer plans on keeping art and painting a major factor in her life.  “Everything I do is about art,” she says, “I have a strong appreciation for people with artistic abilities and I really enjoy going through great art galleries.”

Bauer says that, without a doubt, her biggest artistic influence is her parents.  “My dad is a construction worker and always wanted me to be an architect and my mom is really artistic – even though she doesn’t think she is.  They are both really encouraging.”

When not working with a canvas or computer, Bauer spends nearly every winter weekend snowboarding.  She also has started learning photography; working with light and digital cameras.

But perhaps the most intriguing part of Kaleigh Bauer is her attitude about a person’s own view of their artistic talents.  She explains that, “people sometimes see my work and say “I wish I could be artistic.” But I always tell them that everyone is an artist and that they can be artistic!  If you were to ask someone when they were four years old if they are an artist – they would probably say “yes.” But as people get older, I think they become scared to express themselves.  People should just be more open and say “Yeah, I am an artist.”


Matt Kessler – Billings Senior High School

Matt Kessler loves the outdoors.  Summer-time means backpacking, hiking and being alone out in the wilderness; an experience that has shaped his art and his future career choice.

Kessler, 18, a senior at Senior High School, submitted an art design for a contest through the art department in hopes of winning the prize – the chance to paint the artwork as a mural on the wall of MasterLube at 1628 Grand Ave.  He won, and now gets to share his vision with all of Billings.

The design features the schools Bronc mascot stomping a splash of orange on a map of the United States of America.  Kessler explains that the idea for the image came easily.  “I like maps so I knew I wanted to put that in there,” he says, “then I just worked with the horse and the words so it could all fit together.”

Kessler’s interest for maps comes from all the time he, his father, and his two brothers spend backpacking in the mountains.  Now, his artwork reflects his love of the outdoors.  “I used to like drawing animals, but now I’m really into painting landscapes.  Mountains are in all my landscapes,” he explains.

Even though Kessler had decided not to pursue art professionally, he intends on following his passion for the outdoors into the career world.  He plans on attending Montana State University in Bozeman this fall with hopes of becoming a cartographer-a professional map maker.  The career choice seems to fit him well.  “I always looked at maps from backpacking,” he says.

Kessler says that most of his artistic influence comes from his dad, since he is always taking the family on trips in the outdoors, and his older brother Jeremy.  “Jeremy is a good painter and I look up to him,” he says.

Kessler has lived in Billings his whole life with his parents Jerry and Janice Kessler.  In his spare time, he enjoys hanging out with his friends and downhill skiing.

Although college is only a few short months away, Kessler will spend the summer working his part-time job at Badge West Awards & Engraving and enjoying his greatest interest – backpacking the outdoors.


Josh Tryan – Billings Central Catholic High School

Between rollerblading, school work and teaching guitar, Josh Tryan finds time for art.

Tryan, 18, is a senior at Billings Central Catholic High School and was given the task of designing this year’s mural on the wall of MasterLube at 2650 4th Ave North in downtown Billings.  Tryan worked with a group of fellow seniors and brainstormed ideas for the artwork.  He then pulled together the ideas to form the finished project – a mountain landscape with a rising sun and a representation of the school’s mascot, the ram.  Also included in the mural is a cross, as a reflection the school’s faith-based system.  “I wanted to do something different,” he explains, “something that has not been done in previous years.

Since he has been painting and drawing portraits for many years, Tryan has completed a variety of projects – even doing a portrait for his aunt and uncle’s wedding. “Art has been a lifelong endeavor for me,” he says.

Tryan plans on attending George Fox University in Oregon this coming fall, but not before going to New Mexico this summer for mission work with his church, Faith Evangelical.  After vacation, he plans on working full-time through the summer doing landscaping in an effort to save money for college.

Music is also a huge influence in his life.  Tryan is heavily involved in music ministry at church, playing bass and guitar for the youth group during the week and during services on the weekend.  “I enjoy a wide variety of music,” he says.

With all his activities and artistic ability, Tyan’s parents, Gordon and Wednesday Tryan, have a lot to be proud of.  And although he doesn’t plan on pursuing a career in art, he plans on keeping it in his life.  As he puts it, “I just want to continue painting on the side, as I have the inspiration.”

War of the Walls