C.M. Russell Museum

“Nobody is ever too old to try something stupid!”

Rambling One
So what has transpired?  For all of you who are thinking you would like to go south for some R&R, now is the time.  We did, south to Montana, last spring and my oh my what an experience.  No, I’m not trying to be funny or even sarcastic.

I and my long suffering wife took the “heeler” and went to visit the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana.  WOW!
The following is a random, disjointed account of what we experienced.

First, the C.M. Russell Museum is an excellent institution.  It provides a great opportunity to see work , of the western genre on a Master’s level, side by side with the learning curve it takes to turn raw talent into brilliant fulfillment.  For me this attainment was found most poignantly in a pen & ink drawing of a woman peddling a bike past a native person.  The epiphany came in a single line, in a very small part of the drawing.  The line is under one of her eyes.  It screams contempt.  Let me end here by noting how incredibly difficult it is to make just such a line.  A line with a free, single, singularly purposefully, stroke.   A line worth a lifetime of thought.

Secondly, a stop at the museum gift store yielded another treasure, a small book by Prof. Brian Dippie, formerly of the University of Victoria.  It is a book (“Looking at Russell” Amon Carter Museum 1987) on of course how to look at Russell’s work.  It is a book I profoundly regret not being acquainted with it much sooner in my career.  Let me conclude by saying it far better articulates what I had to say in a prior rambling.

The only two points I would very respectfully challenge Prof. Dippie on are his assertion that the colors used in some of Russell’s later work are rather garish.  I would assert the colors are true to changes in light temperature.  Noon being 5000 to 5500degrees Kelvin and sunrise or sunset being 3000 to 3500 degrees Kelvin.  The color shift is more evident in winter with good snow cover and / or at higher latitudes.  The time frame for witnessing this color shift is normally only a few minutes but more minutes in winter than summer and, at higher latitudes.  Also, the pigment used to paint these colors must be more intense to show as the light is reflected not transmitted.
The other point is the quality of horses Russell has his aboriginal subjects mounted on.  Yes, in Russell’s time most native peoples’s horses were poor; so were most native people were poor.   That said, I respectfully assert that many of these same native people were indeed astute judges of good horse flesh.  Superb! riders don’t normally pick average horses to do demanding, dangerous work.
Enough nit picking.  Prof. Dippie’s book is an excellent “read” and I recommend it highly to anybody with an interest in either Russell or fine art in general.

The third point of our visit is the timing  It was timed to take in the Russell Art Exhibition and Sale to benefit the C.M. Russell Museum which also has a number of other events running in conjunction with it.
There is The Jay Contway and Friends Show, The Western Masters Art Show and Auction, and at least three or four other related shows and events that should be of interest to those who are out of print book collectors, admirers of aboriginal quill work and / or antique fire arm collectors
This all took place March 20 – 23, 2014.  Talk to mr. Google for more information.

I will end this rant with a our visit to the Coeur d’alene galleries at the Western Master Art Show.  These folks promise premium artwork and unparalleled personal service.  They deliver.
I would go, if for nothing else, than to see their presentation again.  They had a painting of a buffalo herd-bull, “Back In The Day” by Chad Poppleton.  The painting is about as good as it gets.  WOW!  I wish this young artist well.  He has done his homework.

Remember, it takes courage to try something stupid.  It takes courage to break out of the comfort zone and go south, south to Montana in March but, WOW!

Please note, the author is pretty sure he is illiterate and real sure he is technologically illiterate but, is willing to engage in any sort of question or debate about the content of said news letter.  Good Luck!