This past weekend was Western Art Weekend in Great Falls, Montana. The city becomes the Western Art Capital of the World during the third weekend in March which is nearest to Charlie Russell’s birthday.
Great Falls claims Russell although he was born in Missouri and came to the area when he was sixteen. He spent the first few years working as a cowboy and night wrangler, painting while he could. Some historians say it was living this life that made his images so realistic – I tend to agree.
The C. M. Russell Museum is located in Great Falls and it houses the largest collection of Russell’s works. Charlie and Nancy Russell’s home is located on the one block complex and it is a National Historic Landmark.
The first event I attended this past week was the Western Heritage Artists Show and Sale at the Holiday Inn. Nearly 90 artists exhibited in hotel rooms which were open to the public to wander in and hopefully purchase art.
They also had an excellent lobby show with a variety of art in different mediums. I liked the metal sculpted fisherman. Well, I liked a LOT of the art!
The next event I attended was Art In Action at the Meadowlark Country Club.
Twenty six artists worked at their easels while attendees mingled among them, taking photos, asking questions and watching the creations come to life. I’d be a nervous wreck with all of that activity but I think most of the artists enjoyed a chance to explain the processes they use to create their art and, to visit with potential buyers of their art.
After a couple of hours at Art In Action all artists stop and their work was auctioned. One hundred percent of the proceeds of the auction went to the Russell Museum.
Art In Action is an annual event and it is part of The Russell: Sale to Benefit the C. M. Russell Museum. It is a sell-out and I love going to it.
I had a plan to get to many more art venues but I only managed to squeeze one more in after Art In Action. I went over to Montana Expo Park and wandered through the Great Western Living and Design Show.
This show probably has the most unique art of all seventeen shows that were held this past weekend. From horseshoe art to stunning wood furniture to Native American art – quite a variety. I recognized a couple of the weavers and spinners but most of the other artists were new to me.
Valentina LaPier from Browning, Montana created this beautiful painted chair. You certainly wouldn’t want to sit in it but gosh, what talent, and what a conversation piece if I had that in my house!
The Great Western Living and Design Show also has a nice variety of entertainment. I watched Native American dancers one night and would have enjoyed single musicians and a full band the next couple of evenings. Too many things to see and do!
So far Western Art Week has been fun – I’m going to see how many more shows I can get to.