Walla Walla native’s painting a ‘Radiant’ addition to building exterior

Former Walla Wallan Stephanie Frostad, now of Missoula, Mont., is a professional artist. Her painting “Radiant, shown above and below, was selected and is affixed to the outside of the Montana Natural History Center in Missoula. The prominent dragonfly in the piece ties in to the MNHC logo.

Former Walla Wallan Stephanie Frostad, now of Missoula, Mont., is a professional artist. Her painting “Radiant, shown above and below, was selected and is affixed to the outside of the Montana Natural History Center in Missoula. The prominent dragonfly in the piece ties in to the MNHC logo. Courtesy photo

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From fish to fox, deer to ducklings and bugs to berries, flora and fauna abound on a 16-by-16-foot mural that graces the exterior of the Montana Natural History Center in Missoula, courtesy of the talents of artist and native Walla Wallan Stephanie J. Frostad.

Now living in Missoula, Stephanie’s design was the winning entry out of 34 submissions, selected by a seven-member MNHC committee who felt her piece exemplified their mission to a T.

MNHC shares the building with Five Valleys Land Trust. It’s a grand upgrade for the former old railroad warehouse that previously was cloaked in a thin Tyvek moisture barrier wrap for many months.

Stephanie’s color-drenched, creature-populated nature mural is an eight-panel assemblage called “Radiant.” The artwork pulls together such other exterior improvements as a new stucco and steel siding facade and natural landscaping.

The committee said “Radiant” best expresses the center’s mission “to promote and cultivate the appreciation, understanding and stewardship of nature through education,” according to an Oct. 2 newspaper article in The Missoulian about the installation and Stephanie’s work.

Her original 18-by-18-inch oil painting was expanded into the 16-by-16-foot image. It was a challenge to keep the colors and integrity intact throughout the project.

A sign company scanned it in high-resolution pieces and reassembled it using Photoshop, reported Jenna Cederberg in The Missoulian. The printed, reassembled pieces were topped with a weatherproofing layer.

Stephanie paints in the style of 1930s American scenes. Askart.com notes that the “tone of her landscapes, often with figures, is isolation and expanse of surroundings.”

“As a narrative painter my objective is to present the essential elements of a story: a character or two, a sense of place and time, a moment of connection, tension or reflection. I seek figures, symbols and scenarios that are both personally compelling and socially relevant,” Stephanie noted at her website, stephaniefrostad.com

“With careful measures of clarity and ambiguity, I hope to create imaginative space for viewers to bring their own perspectives and experiences into the tale. One of my supreme joys is hearing stories that arise in response to the paintings.”

The daughter of Joe and Rosalie Frostad of Walla Walla, Stephanie attended Berney Elementary, Pioneer Junior High and Walla Walla High schools. She has two brothers, Joe Frostad of Walla Walla and John Frostad of Makawao, Hawaii.

While growing up here, she took classes and exhibited in shows at Carnegie Art Center and Whitman College.

In Florence, Italy, she studied at Studio Arts Center International and in Baltimore at the Maryland Institute, College of Art and earned a bachelor of fine arts in 1990. She earned her master of fine arts from the University of Montana in 1994, the same year she received a Montana Arts Council Individual Artist’s Fellowship.

Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and in Canada, China, Italy and New Zealand.

She’s been represented since 1995 by Davidson Galleries in Seattle.

Her work is in numerous public and private collections, including the University of Washington Medical Center, University of Victoria, B.C., the Montana Museum of Art & Culture and Missoula Art Museum.

Stephanie’s schedule for 2014 is hopping with exhibits and benefit art auctions, including a show of a series of paintings of Mount Jumbo at MNHC in spring.

“I’m also excited about a commission I am completing for The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula in honor of the founding of Missoula 150 years ago.”

See more at her website, which features examples of her beautiful paintings.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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