About one mile from the little town of Martinsdale is the prettiest ranch home setting. Years ago it was the home of Charles M. Bair and his family. After Charles’ passing, his daughters Alberta and Marguerite lived on the ranch. Neither of the daughters had children, and the home, surrounding buildings and property were left as a museum for the people of Montana.
The 26 room home is certainly a treat to tour but the two-year old visitor center is on my “not-to-miss” list. It is completely climate controlled with lighting designed to not harm the artwork and a design to fit in with the ranch buildings.
There are permanent displays in the Visitor Center but a temporary display of Edith Freeman’s woodblock prints in the Special Projects Gallery is what caught my eye on my recent visit to the Bair.
Montana native Edith Freeman (1913 – 1992) was an artist, teacher and rancher. She was born on her grandparents ranch near Broadview and later moved to Billings. After a teaching career in eastern Montana she retired and began a second career as a printmaker.
Eastern Montana’s landscape is filled with yucca and sage, sandstone rims and cottonwood-lined creek bottoms. These were the topics of many of the woodblock prints on display.
The tools she used weren’t delicate or complicated, they were actually fairly simple. The layering of colors and designs would be the complicated and detailed part of woodblock prints. You would want your color wheel handy in order to determine what color you would finally end up with after layers of colors.
This unique display is worth the drive. It will be at the Bair Museum, on loan from the Yellowstone Art Museum, until October 31, 2014.