New Mural on Van Buren
Drive eastbound from Van Buren Street to Interstate 90 and prepare for double vision: The Hellgate Canyon as it is and as it might have been.
Artist Lillian Nelson has finished about half of the 113-foot-wide mural she’s designed for the new retaining wall alongside Missoula’s double roundabout intersection. Its background envisions the gap between Mount Sentinel and Mount Jumbo as Salish and Kootenai hunting parties knew it when they still hunted buffalo on the prairies beyond.
“There are a lot of metaphors for creation in here,” Nelson said of the bear and cubs, deer and fawn, rising sun and eventually the mother and child that will form the centerpiece. She’s also woven in subtle patterns and color combinations that reflect indigenous art styles, although she’s quick to mention that as a non-Native person, she’s working on inspiration rather than copy.