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Sandra Phillips

Elk River Arts & Lectures presents Sandra Phillips, photography curator emerita at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. with a multimedia presentation of her books, American Geography: Photographs of Land Use from 1840 to the Present, and Crossing the Frontier: Photographs of the Developing West, 1840 to the Present, on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, at Elk River Books’ new location, 122 S. 2nd St., in Livingston, Montana.

The books are based on exhibits that Phillips curated at SFMOMA, with American Geography being something of a sequel to Crossing: “American Geography charts a visual history of land use in the United States. From the earliest photographic records of human habitation to the latest aerial and digital images, this compilation offers an increasingly nuanced perspective on human intervention in the American landscape by exploring how photography shaped conceptions of the land in the name of conservation, expansion, and exploitation.”

Both books include passages by august writers, many of whom write about land use in the rural West (including Barry Lopez, whose introductory text in American Geography is the last thing that he wrote).

During her stay in Park County, Phillips also will spend time with local high school students, talking with them about her work at the museum, and the subject matter of her books.

This event is being supported through a grant from the Park County Community Foundation. It will begin at 7 p.m., and will be followed by a book signing and reception.

Elk River Arts & Lectures is a nonprofit organization with the mission of cultivating and celebrating the literary arts in Park County. For more information, visit elkriverarts.org.

Ryan Busse’s Gunfight

Photo by Mandy Mohler

Former firearms executive Ryan Busse will read from and discuss his memoir, Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America, at the new home of Elk River Books, 122 S. 2nd St. in downtown Livingston, on Thursday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m. A book signing and reception will follow.

Gunfight tells the story of how Busse’s upbringing within the family traditions of sustainable hunting practices and admiration for finely crafted rifles led him to his dream job selling of millions of firearms for Kimber, one of America’s most respected gun companies. Unfortunately, as the industry was pulled into extremism, and well-made hunting guns the likes of which “would never be found at a crime scene” were more and more replaced by cheaply made assault rifles and other “tactical” weapons that were being pushed by the National Rifle Association—as well as white supremacist and radical militia groups—Busse found himself fighting against the industry he once championed.

The publisher describes Gunfight as “an insider’s call-out of a wild, secretive, and critically important industry. It shows how America’s gun industry shifted from prioritizing safety and ethics to one that is addicted to fear, conspiracy, intolerance, and secrecy. It recounts Busse’s personal transformation and shows how authoritarianism spreads in the guise of freedom, how voicing one’s conscience becomes an act of treason in a culture that demands sameness and loyalty. Gunfight offers a valuable perspective as the nation struggles to choose between armed violence or healing.”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester writes, “Woven through this riveting personal story is a message for millions of reasonable Americans who are not happy with being branded and manipulated by the political extremes. Gunfight reveals the truth about the roots of our national division and many people will see themselves in Busse’s resistance to extremism.”

Busse helped build one of the world’s most iconic gun companies and was nominated multiple times for the prestigious Shooting Industry Person of the Year Award. He is an environmental advocate who has served in many leadership roles, including as an advisor for the United States Senate Sportsmen’s Caucus and the Biden presidential campaign. He remains a proud outdoorsman, gun owner, father and resident of Montana.

In an effort to keep our community safe, masks will be required and vaccinations are strongly encouraged. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available at the door.

Craig Johnson’s Longmire

Best-selling author Craig Johnson will read from and discuss the newest addition to his much-loved Sheriff Longmire mystery series, Daughter of the Morning Star, at the new home of Elk River Books, 122 S. 2nd St. in downtown Livingston, on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. A book signing and reception will follow.

Daughter of the Morning Star, the 17th in the series, brings Sheriff Walt Longmire and his partner, Henry Standing Bear, to the Crow Reservation of southeast Montana to aid the investigation into death threats against the tribal police chief’s niece, Jaya Long. Jaya is the standout player of the Lame Deer Lady Stars High School basketball team, even better than her older sister, who has disappeared a year previously—a victim of the scourge of missing Native women in Indian Country. The case pits Longmire in a one-on-one with the deadliest adversary he has ever faced in both this world and the next.

Johnson was inspired to write this novel when he was attending a library event on the Crow Reservation. He was struck by a missing persons poster of a young woman hanging from a community bulletin board. While researching, he discovered a staggering statistic: According to the FBI’s National Crime Investigation Center, 5,590 indigenous women went missing last year alone.

“The plight of missing and murdered indigenous women is so great that I had to reassure my publisher that the statistics contained in this novel are accurate,” says Johnson. “The numbers are staggering, and they speak for themselves. More is being done, but there is so much more to do.”

He recommends supporting the work of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center in Lame Deer, Montana. They can be found at NIWRC.org.

In addition to being the New York Times bestselling author of the Longmire mysteries—the basis for the hit Netflix original series Longmire—Johnson is a recipient of the Western Writers of America Spur Award for fiction and the Mountain & Plains Independent Booksellers Association’s Reading the West Book Award. His novella Spirit of Steamboat was the first One Book Wyoming selection. He lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population 25.

In an effort to keep our community safe, masks will be required and vaccinations are strongly encouraged. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available at the door.

Writers Workshop Panel Discussions

Elk River Arts & Lectures is presenting a series of panel discussions during the week of August 16, as part of its annual writing workshop. These conversations take place each evening at 7 p.m. in the Chico Convention Center, and are free and open to the public. They include:

Monday, Aug. 16: Indigenity and Literature: Appropriation, Self Determination, and Art in Literature by and about Native People, with Beth Piatote, Adrian Jawort, Sterling HolyWhiteMountain and Terese Mailhot. Moderated by CMarie Fuhrman.

Tuesday, Aug. 17: Publishing Your Outdoor and Place-Based Writing, with Charles Finn (High Desert Journal), Corinne Gaffner Garcia (Big Sky Journal), Christine Holbert (Lost Horse Press) and Scott McMillion (Montana Quarterly). Moderated by Seabring Davis (author and former editor of Big Sky Journal and Western Art & Architecture).

Wednesday, Aug. 18: Art and Climate Change: Navigating the Intersections of Science, Conservation, Culture and Art on a Rapidly Warming Planet, with Gary Ferguson, Doug Peacock, and Cathy Whitlock. Moderated by Mary Clare.

The Elk River Writers Workshop draws dozens of students from all over the country to work with renowned faculty members. This year’s roster includes Montana author Rick Bass, internationally recognized ornithologist J. Drew Lanham, Nimíipuu scholar and author Beth Piatote, and the husband-wife poetry team of William Pitt Root and Pamela Uschuk.

The workshop is a program of Elk River Arts & Lectures, a nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating and celebrating the literary arts in Park County.

Please note: In light of the substantial number of Covid cases in Park County, we are asking all participants to plan on wearing a mask while inside.

Elk River Arts & Lectures Gala Reading and Fundraiser

Tickets are now on sale for the Elk River Writers Workshop Gala Faculty Reading in the Chico Hot Springs Convention Center, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, August 19.

The event will feature readings by renowned authors Rick Bass, J. Drew Lanham, Beth Piatote, William Pitt Root, and Pamela Uschuk, followed with a live musical performance by Montana Rose. There will be hearty appetizers, a cash bar, and a silent auction to support the work of Elk River Arts & Lectures, a nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating and celebrating the literary arts in Park County.

Auction items include a bear-watching expedition with naturalist Doug Peacock, Vino & Verse: a wine tasting with paired poetry by the Gourmet Cellar and Marc Beaudin, an architectural consultation with Tom Blurock, a manuscript consultation with bestselling author/ghostwriter Maryanne Vollers, and more. Pre-bidding for the auction begins on Sunday, August 8, at biddingowl.com/ElkRiverArtsLectures.

Tickets are $25, and are available here, and at the door. Donations are tax-deductible, and go to support Elk River Arts & Lectures programming, which includes an annual Lecture Series, Visiting Writer program, and Poetry in the Classroom, among other activities.

Please note: In light of the substantial number of Covid cases in Park County, we are asking all participants to plan on wearing a mask while inside.

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