Monday, March 23, 2015


Going... going...
Friday we drove to Great Falls.
Home to the Charles M. Russell
Museum it's considered an artistic
center within our state. Specifically
during Western Art Week every
March. Across town galleries and
museums exhibit and sell artwork
inspired by the wild west. Sort of
a roundup of big money western
art collectors, nightly auctions
yield millions of dollars in sales.
Apparently if you like that sort
of thing, this is the place to be.
The real deal
Charles M. Russell was the ultimate
western artist. Raised in Missouri,
he wandered out to this country to
become a cowboy and then painter.
"Charlie's" majestic "pitchers" of
cowboys and indians are among the
most famous, coveted, and expensive
expressions of the wild west. Around
the turn of the last century he often
used his paintings to pay off his bar
tabs. Now a 24" x 36" can sell for
over five million dollars. Now that's
how the west was won - YEE HAW!
Rhinestone cowboys
I must admit that I'm not a fan of
traditional western art. There were
hundreds of exhibitors, yet finding
anything that appealed to Frank or
myself was rather challenging. We
find no allure in images of deer,
moose, cowboys, injuns, or barbed
wire. What's certain is that "modern
art" must not appeal to these pseudo
cowboy collectors. Or it doesn't fit
into the log beamed, rawhide, river
rock interiors of those Yellowstone
Club manses with blank walls.
From beginning to end
This event is spread across several
venues in town. The Out West Show
is held at the Best Western Inn. Over
fifty artists and galleries exhibit their
wares within converted motel rooms
adjacent to an indoor pool. While not
aesthetically inspiring, it was fun to
stroll the halls and sneak a peek into
other people's rooms. Sadly the work
was of a more commercial nature than
true "fine art," Given our home lacks
an empty space above an overstuffed
leather sofa, we exited empty handed.
Western exposure
We actually do collect "western"
art. Specifically those related to
Montana. Our pride is the work
of Bill Stockton a sheep rancher
and painter. His work is modern,
unique, and moving. James Bason
is a painter based in Great Falls.
We own several of his striking
representations of our amazing
local landscape (left). While on
display at Western Art Week -
we prefer to buy direct from the
artist (click here for his site).
Four for more
We loved a 1930's landscape
by an artist we did not know.
However at $238,000 - we
moved on. Equally amazing
were four canvases of Square
Butte by Tom Gilleon. One of
the stars within this category
his work is usually of teepees
and the like (right.) However
this new work was modern
and striking and could be
yours for only $40,000 each.
Is there a discount for all four?

How great thou art
This cowboy must emotionally
connect with anything on his
wall. Frank and I collect the
work of Robert Baranet. We
recently added this landscape
that hangs above our fireplace.
It moves us in mysterious ways.
Isn't that what art is all about?
It's an expression of emotion -
a moment captured forever.
True art is NOT about finding
the perfect decorative accessory
for your cowboy crib! Giddy up!