Bently Spang wants to counter the idea that Bozeman, or any space in the U.S., was empty before colonizers arrived.

“We’re at a moment now where we’re reclaiming our story and telling that narrative,” he said.

That complex, layered narrative will be presented in Spang’s aptly named performance, “Stratum Reset,” to be held at the Tinworks Art popup at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

At 719 N. Ida Ave., Tinworks Art is a temporary art installation in an abandoned warehouse that’s slated to be demolished this coming spring to make way for a mixed-use development that will include affordable and market-rate apartments, artist studios, makerspaces, commercial and office space.

Tinworks opened on July 12, and Spang’s performance will be the last one held at the popup on the last day it’s open to the public. He said he didn’t want to give away too much, but it will incorporate movement, audio, natural elements and color.

Spang lives in Billings and is an enrolled member of Tsitsistas/Suhtai Nation, also called the Northern Cheyenne tribe. With an MFA from the University of Wisconsin, he creates art in various mediums, from sculpture to live performance.

He said he wants to remind people of the history of the Tinworks space and all the layers of experience that existed there long before there was a warehouse.

When he comes to Bozeman, he said, he often hears from people whose family members homesteaded in the area. As Bozeman grows and changes, he said it will be important for people to keep its history and the layer of indigenous experience in mind.

“There was this interaction between groups, a long interaction” he said. “So let’s never forget that, because if we do, it leads to all kinds of problems and issues.”

Spang is one of several artists to use the space. Local artist John Buck has a large, hand-carved wooden sculpture that uses pulleys, motors and belts. Titled “Cat’s Cradle,” it’s about the colonization of the Americas, said Eli Ridgway, a curator and organizer for Tinworks.

There’s also a horse sculpture called “Billings” across the room, put together with steel artist Deborah Butterfield found at a loading dock in Billings.

In the next room sits two giant, 450-pound candles, for an exhibit titled “In Praise of Shadows” by Adam Frelin.

A little farther into the warehouse lies a room with thousands, if not tens of thousands of tiny dots drilled in to the roof by artist Chris Fraser, creating dots of light around the entire room when the sun shines. The exhibit is called “Asterisms,” and The Crossing choir performed there in July.

The last exhibit was put together by the Northeast Neighborhood Association, featuring slice-of-life and historical photos from across the neighborhood. On the walls, people wrote down thoughts about the neighborhood’s past and future.

Each exhibit was meant to be experiential, Ridgway said. Organizers behind the popup are also hoping to open a contemporary art space in Bozeman and wanted to gauge interest. With 150 to over 200 people coming every day it was open, he said that interest has been “incredibly confirmed.”

He said the Tinworks space worked well for a popup, considering the Northeast neighborhood’s history as a funky, artsy spot in Bozeman and Tinworks’ future as the site of the multi-use development.

Erik Nelson, owner of Thinktank Design Group, said he’s glad the neighborhood got a chance to interact with the installation. Thinktank is behind the project, and he said he hopes to see the neighborhood’s legacy continue.

“There’s been such great culture that has happened in that neighborhood, and we want contribute strongly to it,” he said.

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Chris Fraser's name and the name of Bently Spang's exhibit, "Stratum Reset."

Abby Lynes can be reached at or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.

Abby Lynes covers business and the economy for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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