Tucked away in a quaint wooden building on the east side of downtown Ennis is the RiverStone Gallery. It is owned by husband and wife Lexi and Bern Sundell. Lexi has been painting since her teens learning from her uncle who was very skilled in oil paints. Bern has been painting all his life. Together they opened a gallery featuring both of their artwork.
Lexi and Bern both love working with very bight colors. All of their paintings feature bright tones with interesting textures. In their gallery over the summer they get people from all over the world coming into the store. Ennis being on the way to Yellowstone National Park allows for this international exposure.
Their gallery is well lit with light hard wood floors and nice presentation lighting. The studio also has excellent natural light filtering into it which allows the bright colors of the paintings to really pop in the sunlight.
Bern has been approached by the Made In Montana company to have his images placed on items such as mugs and canteens to be sold in souvenir shops all around the state of Montana. Below are some of the items that the couple sell wholesale.
Ennis’ The Nearly New Shoppe. This store is full of new, used and vintage items all donated by residents of Ennis and surrounding areas. It is a great way for people to unload things from their home they no longer need / use and donate them to a good cause.
Upon entering the store I talked to one of the ladies at the front and asked her if I could feature the store in my photography project. Lynn, the manager and owner of the store was more than trilled to have the shop featured. I was able to go behind the scenes and see the back room of the shop where all the sorting and pricing happens.
The back of the store works in sections. There is an area for the newly dropped off items that need to be looked over to make sure they are in sellable condition. Anything that is too beat up / doesn’t work / stinks is thrown out. All other goods are put onto the store floor.
Once the items are tagged and put onto the store floor there is a color coded system that begins. Items are tagged with a certain color (white is the color of June). The items from that month last in the store for three whole months and once the time is up, the items are bagged and sent to Bozeman where they are then shipped to Texas where a recycling company pays for the goods by the pound.
The silent auction of the store is a place where high value items are put on silent auction for two weeks. The store does not set the price of these high priced items but instead lets the people of Ennis decide the price through bidding.
This store is all non-profit and donates all the money made at this store. Last year the store made $120,000 that it donated to various charities. One of the largest grants the store gives out is scholarship money to local students looking to get a higher education. This store is also run by the women’s club.
The Ennis, Montana pen sorting competition at the Ennis rodeo grounds. This event drew hundreds of people to the grounds to watch and cheer on those participating.
Pen sorting is the sorting of cattle moving them one at a time from one pen to the other. The idea is to mark a specific cow you want to heard into the other pen. Once selected you charge at the cow and attempt to separate it from the group and move it into the smaller cage.
Below are images of the men and women competing to get the cattle from one pen to the other as soon as possible. Everyone works in teams of two. The goal is to get all of the cattle into the smaller pen one by one the fastest.
Storytime remembering Ronald “Doc” Losee 1919-2017. This event was a memorial held by the city of Ennis to remember the cherished orthopedic surgeon Doc Losee. This was an extravagant event filled with many emotions. The event drew about 300 people who came to honor the man.
“I am so damned glad Olive and I chose to do our thing the way we did and where we did it. I’m so damn glad we weren’t fooled by the gods of power, of money, of fear, of hate, of fame. I’m so damned glad we’re human, imperfect, and know those things. I’m so damned glad we needed to little law, that we never sued. I’m so damned glad we could dream, we could think, we could pray, we could work, we could play, and that Olive is my wife and we are parents and grandparents. I’m so damned glad I was a doctor, that I learned so much about life and creativity, and so little of killing and destruction. I am so damned glad that Olive and I were taught to love people, and that we did love people. Like all people,we need our privacy for rest and repose. And, as life is given to us,we shall always come fourth to love some more!” – Ronald “Doc” Losee
I am not sure where to begin with explaining this experience. I went to this memorial not knowing what to expect. I didn’t know anything about the man and it was rather intriguing to go to a memorial of someone you have never met before. While walking in, part of me felt as though it was inappropriate to be there, but at the same time seeing all the love and laughter in the room made me feel welcome.
The memorial began with stories from those close to Losee documenting their time together. Stories came from his son, friends and fellow doctors. Through the stories and from the laughter in the crowd I can see the love everyone in the room had for doc. He was truly a cherished member of the Ennis community and the people loved him.
Doc was an orthopedic surgeon who went to Dartmouth University for undergrad and came to Ennis, Montana. The town was in desperate need of a doctor and Doc went back to Yale to study orthopedic surgery. He came back to Ennis and became the town’s surgeon. He is a world-renowned surgeon in his field and is widely known in the medical community. He was not a greedy doctor and for example surgeries for ‘tennis elbow’ in Bozeman would cost $3,000 but he would only change $184. He was not in the business to make money but to help people. I learned about how caring this man was and the staple he was in the community. It was hard being here surrounded by people who know the man and I know nothing. At the end, Justin Lubke a cinematographer in the town created a beautiful video of doc that included an interview and images of him throughout his life. This was an extremely emotional moment for everyone in the room and a lot of tears were being shed. Even I began to tear up at the beautiful film for a man I never met before. I am happy I went to this memorial and got to know Doc just a little bit even though he is no longer with us because he was a positive light in this world.
My first day in Ennis I couldn’t help but pay attention to the small details around the town. From paint chipping to abstract patterns in glass windows to shadows. The downtown was small but there is a lot of character that goes unnoticed to most. I wanted to capture these beautiful things I saw that many will overlook. Below is my compilation of these objects.
Looking to the west standing in the center of the town we can see the entrance into the downtown. There is an American flag in the distance with shops and restaurants lining the road.
Ennis has a very large tourist population over the summer because of the abundance of fish (11,000,000 trout) which brings a very large fly fishing culture and West Yellowstone being extremely close. Virginia City which is to the West of Ennis an old time gold rush town that has now been turned into a historical site is also a reason why there are so many tourists coming through the town.
Colorful fly fishing lurers with sequin used for fishing to attract fish to the hooks. These are sold by The Tackle Shop in downtown Ennis. The store is dimly lit with display lights hitting their products. There is an outdoorsy vibe due to the products carried in the store.
All made in Montana products at this lovely store called My Home in Montana. This store carries only products made right here in our state. The store is full of objects ranging from tourism products (trinkets, etc) to fishing gear, baby wear, jewelry, candy and more.
The Nearly New Shop in downtown Ennis is a non-profit goodwill organization. For more information on this store and what its purpose is, please go to the ‘Nearly New Shop’ tab on the main page where I will delve deeper into this store.
The RiverStone Gallery. This gallery is owned by a husband and wife who are both painters. The wife, Lexi, does paintings along with creating jewelry. Her husband, Burn makes paintings and also has his work on mugs and canteens.
KH Concrete is an Ennis, Montana right off the side of the road on Highway 287. It is a concrete company serving Virginia City, Norris and Sheridan. With all the growth that is happening in Montana, Ennis has also seen its fair share creating a lot of business for this small company.
Ennis Cafe a small American diner is one of the only cafes in the downtown area that is open until 4pm. Many of the other restaurants in the town close at 2 or 3pm. This gives the business an edge and drives sales when everywhere else is closed.
Standing in the center of downtown Ennis, here is the view looking east toward the Madison mountain range. Cars full of locals and tourists line the sides of the roads. Parking is free in downtown Ennis!
During my time spend in Ennis I noticed there was an abundance of dogs everywhere I go. I am a dog person and found myself wanting to photograph some of the dogs I see around town. Below are just a few of the dogs I met on my journey exploring Ennis, Montana.
This is Wuff, he is a Bernese Mountain dog and he resides at the Silvertap Lodge. His owners live on the premises and own the lodge. He spends a lot of his time outside during the summer months greeting guests and laying in the grass. Quite the life!
This beautiful black dog is Biggie and he is a mutt. He is eight years old and lives in Ennis. He loves spending his days on the ranch and playing fetch. His owner is a cattle herder and says he loves running around on the open property.
Silver the Mastiff. Silver this three years old and is a full grown 150 pound grey Italian Mastiff. He was born in Italy and the owner purchased him through a breeder in Washington who is friends with the breeder in Italy. He loves to lick and play and I am pretty sure he would be much taller than me when standing on his hind legs. This photograph really does no justice to his size.
This is Lucy, a mixed boarder collie . She is one years old and is very curious when it comes to cameras. Every time my shutter clicked her head turned more and more to the side staring at the lens. She is very energetic and loves to chase ground squirrels and rabbits in her free time. She also loves to watch television.
This is Sugar. She lives at the Madison River Fishing Company store in downtown Ennis. She is a Brittany Spaniel and loves to hangout outside the storefront meeting new people and dogs. She is extremely friendly but appears a little annoyed by my camera lol.
Tap Into Ennis is Montana’s first combined brewery and distillery festival. It took place on Saturday May 20, 2017 from 3-7 pm at the Lions Club Park in downtown Ennis, Montana. The crowd was filled with both young and old as people celebrated good vibes and beer.
There was both beer, wine and liquor at this festival. For a $25 entry fee you get a mug to go around to the different booths and have a sample of their beer. Shots were also provided by vendors.
At the festival there was live music performances that took place. This man is part of a local band that performed for a few hours. The music was relaxing and set the mood.
Lovely Ennis Cafe located at 108 East Main Street is a wonderful small town American classic diner. The building is all wood and features wood and metal artwork above the first floor. It has a very unique look and embodies the western feel.
Upon walking into the restaurant I was greeted by one of the owners, Darline. The diner was buzzing with business and the clanking of utensils as people eat and the sounds of food being cooked in the kitchen.
Small tables line the front picture from windows with red and green booths along the back wall. This cozy restaurant has green carpet with half wood paneled walls.
The first time I came here I got the house salad with balsamic vinaigrette. I also added on chicken. I did not know what to expect but the salad exceeded my expectations. It was delicious! And I am someone who does not normally order salads at restaurants.
On my second trip back to this restaurant I got the chicken tenders with sweet and sour sauce with the house salad on the side. The tenders were not homemade but were still pretty good.
After finishing my meal I met the owners of the restaurant. Their names are Bob and Darline and they have been married for 33 years. Both live in Ennis and have run this restaurant for a few decades. Currently, the property is up for sale and they are looking to sell the property. The future of Ennis Cafe is unknown because the new owner may not want to run the cafe. Bob and Darline and looking forward to retirement and enjoying themselves in southwestern Montana.