By Ross Markman
For Steve Helmbrecht, art isn't a way of life.
It is life.
"Art inspires us to think outside the box, outside our everyday routine," he said. "It's an inspiration to everyone. If we don't have it, what's to live for?"
Helmbrecht, a 50-year-old potter who owns Helmbrecht photography studio in Havre, is the featured artist at the H. Earl Clack Museum Gallery from Wednesday to May 5. His work, which encompasses a broad range of ceramics, is on display Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free.
A wine and cheese reception will be held tonight at 7 at the gallery to welcome the exhibit. The Clack Museum is located in the Heritage Center on the corner of Third Avenue and Third Street.
"It should be a pretty exciting exhibit," said Helmbrecht, who will be in attendance tonight. "I'm going to have on display some Raku and some low fire earthenware."
Raku is a low-fire ceramic technique Helmbrecht has experimented with for much of his 20 years working with clay. In addition to crafting his own art, the Havre native has been teaching ceramics at Montana State University-Northern for the last four years.
Helmbrecht's is the first work to grace the Clack Museum in more than six months. In October, members of the Hill County Museum Board voted to close the museum for the winter.
Since its doors were closed in November, the museum has undergone some renovations, said Tracey Warburton, a member of the County Museum Board.
Warburton and Raela Hulett of H. Earl Clack Foundation Board co-chair the arts and culture committee, the group responsible for bringing artists to the Heritage Center. The Foundation Board oversees the Heritage Center.
"We want to have a variety of mediums, from metal to paint to etchings," Warburton said. "I'm totally excited and I'm excited for the gallery too. This will expose the community to a variety of works."
Helmbrecht, Warburton added, was selected to kick off the art season because of his talent and reputation in the Havre area.
"He's so good at his pottery and he's well known for it," she said. "He does everything from vases to wall hangings to masks. He even does some free-form standing pottery."
The next exhibition at the Clack Museum Gallery will highlight the art of Neil Jessila, an oil painter from Billings whose work includes depiction of mothers and babies a display just in time for Mother's Day, Warburton said.