A 'curious' collection at new Helena art gallery

Posted at 5:47 PM, Oct 12, 2022

HELENA — New on North Last Chance Gulch, an art gallery that goes by Curiouser and Curiouser, uses toys and other items in their artwork like you might not believe.

Barry Ferst is a retired philosophy professor at Carroll college and after 46 years of teaching, he had a different idea of retirement.

“The question for many people when they retire is, what are you going to do with yourself, and many people are happy to be retired, and wake up, comb their hair, walk their dog for a walk and are happy with that I can't be like that,” said Ferst.

Ferst was encouraged by his friends to open up an art gallery where he would display and sell the unique art he makes in his free time.

“To me, the great joy of this shop is the repeated comment, the comment I’ve heard so many times since I opened it two and a half months ago is I’ll hear people say 'Wow!'” said Ferst.

“Wow” is right. Ferst's work is a mix of figures, toys, statues, knickknacks, and various other items all intricately arranged. Many of his pieces are interactive as well, with lights, motors, or doors that encourage the viewer to explore the piece further, and the result is an eye-popping collage of color and texture.

“What’s called kitsch cheap little objects, hoping you can elevate them into a piece of art,” said Ferst.

Ferst says his artistic inspiration comes from his travels around the world seeing artwork from various cultures inspires him to put his own spin on it.

“I’ve been to many many many museums and galleries, or by some other artist... And I say I can do that my way, and that'll be an inspiration to me,” said Ferst.

Seeing all of the intricate art pieces, all different from the rest, I had to ask him, what’s his favorite piece?

“No! I like them all! I can’t say our favorites, but they're more than several that do different things that I like for different reasons,” said Ferst

The art gallery is open Thursdays through Saturdays, but if you see the door open on any other day, Ferst encourages you to check out the gallery for yourself.