“Unique” is a word writers learn to use sparingly if ever, but then, I’d never slept in an art gallery before. You can, too, at the Elk River Art Gallery, Studio and Lodge in Gardiner, Montana.
Owners Shirl Ireland and John Stacy have been artists for more than 20 years. John creates bronze wildlife sculptures, and Shirl draws and paints a variety of Yellowstone-inspired landscapes, wildlife and still life. Together, they create decorative lighting fixtures for residential and commercial projects throughout the country.
Taking their artistic talents even further, they designed and built luxury guest accommodations within their gallery on the banks of the Yellowstone River. (The North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park is on the edge of town.) The Gallery Lodge and Guest House Lodge are completely furnished and meticulously decorated homes. The accommodations include private bed-and-bath suites, full chef’s kitchens and massive dining tables for extended family or friend gatherings. Original artwork art and dramatic views offer a truly unique guest experience.
Our group of three journalists spent two nights at the Elk River Gallery and Lodge as part of a media tour through Yellowstone Country in Montana. The gallery lodge sleeps 8 to 12 people, and has one outdoor glamping space along the river. One of the suites is in a loft overlooking the main living room and gathering space, and another is on that same level. I took the lower level, which has the kitchen, dining room, two bedrooms and three baths. There’s also an outdoor deck, perfect for sipping a glass of wine while watching a sunset or gazing at the elk that frolic along the water.
Most of the backside of the lodge is glass, so the views of water, mountains and wildlife are breathtaking–even from your bed. But so is the artwork and interior design by Shirl and John. They combine vintage, rustic, reclaimed and natural materials into a stunningly beautiful but oh-so-cozy environment.
Imagine, if you can, bathroom vanities fashioned from weathered dressers and hall trees. A large rock carved as a vessel sink. Worn tin ceiling tiles drafted into wainscoting. Glass-topped corbels serving as bedside tables. And lots of mismatched doors and transoms. And the most luscious bedding ever. Add Shirl Ireland’s paintings and John Stacy’s sculptures and the duo’s inventive light fixtures, and the lodge teems with luxury. At every corner, I marveled at the creativity of the space.
Our stay at the Elk River Gallery and Lodge was an unforgettable experience. Many thanks to Yellowstone Country Montana for hosting my stay, and to Shirl Ireland and John Stacy for your gracious Montana hospitality!
1007 Scott St. W., Gardiner, Montana 59030