Saturday, June 20, 2015

Attending the Charlie Russell Symposium

I grew up seeing Charlie Russell's art on calendars, and knick-knacks.  Reproductions hung in homes. I remember the first time I saw an exhibit of his work.  It would have been in 1979 after I moved to Helena, Montana.  I visited the Montana Historical Society and they had some of his work on exhibit. My favorite pieces were some letters he had illustrated.  They spoke to me but I didn't understand yet what they were saying.

During the intervening years I would have a nodding acquaintance with the artist.  A few years ago I was participating in a writer's challenge.  I had chosen Montana A-Z.  I was stuck for a place for the letter "U".  My husband said let's go to Utica.  That was the town in one of Charlie Russell's paintings.  And my journey began.

A Quiet Day in Utica

I came to understand Charlie Russell was not only a gifted artist but above else he was a story teller. 

The Montana Historical Society has been celebrating the 150th anniversary of Charlie's birthday.   It has been my honor and pleasure to be able to attend the Charlie Russell Symposium that they organized this year.  Scholars and authors,  actually they are Rock Stars in the Charlie Russell world.  
What I notice is the connection and friendship that these scholars and historians have developed over the years.  They have been generous with their time and knowledge.  It has been an incredible few days.  

Here is a list of some of the presenters:

Jodie Utter
Peter Hassrick
Mary Jane Bradbury
B Byron Price
Kirby Lambert
Jennifer Bottomly- O'Looney  
Brian Dippie
Larry Len Peterson
Kathryn Kramer
Jack Gladstone
Montana PBS

And of course there are the wonderful books.  Larry Peterson gave 50 copies of his book "Charles M. Russell:  Photographing the Legend, to Montana Schools.  I decided on two books "Montana's Charlie Russell" by Jennifer Bottomly-O'Looney and Kirby Lambert.  And "The 100 Best Illustrated Letters of Charles M. Russell" by Brian Dippie.  My husband tried to talk me out of purchasing them.

As I was paying for the two books.  The fellow from the bookstore turned to my husband and said.  "You weren't successful".  You see Dan had been planning to buy them and give them to me for a present.  I think today I will point out several other books I have my eye on.

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