An Afternoon at Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art

The other day I took a few minutes to stop in to Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art and see their current exhibitions. I’ve missed most of the opening receptions lately because of conflicts and I was eager to get a glimpse of what they have displayed.
And, I was not disappointed!
The Blackfeet Portrait Project was very impressive and I even recognized a few of the people featured in the exhibit. One of my favorite pieces was of a buffalo (bison) done by one of the artists who was featured in a portrait.
The artist on this project was Cheryl Dineen Ferrin and she did portraits of Blackfeet artists and their work. There are 22 works of art in this traveling exhibition. Eleven are actual portraits of Blackfeet artists and then there is one piece of each artist’s work displayed.
My favorite exhibit though was titled “The West: Recent Oil Paintings by Alan McNiel”. McNiel is a Montana artist and he painted scenes from original photos, mostly of downtowns and old buildings in several states.
A press release about the exhibit says that one day these scenes will be about life in the “old west” and I as watch some downtowns change I think that is correct. Fourteen paintings include eleven from Montana locales (2 from Missoula, 2 from Bozeman, and one each from Great Falls, Plains, Browning, Troy, Kalispell, Butte and Thompson Falls). Other states represented in the paintings are Idaho (2 paintings) and one in New Mexico.
All of McNiel’s paintings are incredibly charming. As I studied the one titled Snowy Afternoon in Great Falls I was sure it was painted near my home. If it wasn’t, well, I’ll never know because I’m not going to try to find out.
I love wandering around the old building that was once a school and now houses Great Falls’ contemporary art museum. The old floors creak a bit although they are shined and polished. The signs on the restrooms say “Boys” and “Girls” and the door handles are lower so kids would have been able to reach them. The exhibit rooms are intimate and there are very tempting items in the gift shop…yes, I love this place.

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