The capital of the Western art world in late March is Great Falls, Montana.
The Western art world will again rendezvous in Great Falls, Montana, March 20 – 24, for what’s become known as Western Art Week. The adopted hometown of famed Western artist Charles M. Russell plays host to 15 individual art shows, displaying the works of more than 750 artists, whose interpretations of the American West take advantage of virtually every medium and style you can imagine. Here are some of the shows that should not be missed. To revisit last year’s Western Art Week and for an art preview of this year’s event, scroll down to the next image and click for the slideshow.
“The Boys of Summer” by Colin Alexander is up for bid at the 2019 The Russell Auction/Courtesy C.M. Russell Museum
The only show of the week that benefits Great Falls’ C.M. Russell Museum, The Russell attracts collectors who jet in from around the country to bid on original Russells and other historic art, as well as the best in contemporary pieces. Look for seven-figure bids at the Russell’s exciting Saturday night auction. “It’s one of the few art auctions where the actual buyers are in the room,” says Christina Horton of the Russell Museum. “And I think it’s because many of the artists come to support the auction. The collectors like to be in the same room with the artists, visit with them, and learn the back story of the painting. ... And people just love the museum. … They also just love coming to Great Falls and enjoying these wonderful events with their fellow art lovers. It’s become a reunion of friends.” cmrussell.org/the-russell-event
The Western Heritage Art Show
This eclectic mix of contemporary works by more than 60 artists offers some unique takes on the genre. “When people think of Western art, they sometimes have a very a narrow image of what that is,” says the WHA’s Brad Reynolds. “But I feel like our artists provide a broader spectrum of what Western art is, and I think anyone who attended the show would find a piece of art that would be to their liking.” westernheritageartshow.com
The Jay Contway & Friends Art Show
The famed Montana cowboy sculptor hosts an intimate gathering of just 15 high-end artists, whose works cover everything from oil painting and leatherwork to pottery and photography — even a custom handmade wooden canoe. “A little bit of everything,” says Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Artist of the Year Linda Short, whose scratchboard is featured in the show. “Really, really exquisite work.” jaycontway.com
“Fireboat Benton” by Dave Dubé is new art for sale in the 2019 Russell Auction/Courtesy C.M. Russell Museum
March in Montana
“Every event has its own personality and I think our auction is designed be fun,” says Ron Nicholas, whose Coeur d’Alene Galleries owns the show. “We provide a really good mix of historic and contemporary work — weavings, Native American beadwork, cowboy collectibles. It’s a show for everyone.” The more than 700 items up for bid include a pair of grizzly bear rugs, at an auction taking place at the same Great Falls Elks Lodge once frequented by Charlie Russell. marchinmontana.com
“Cow Creek Cooler,”pastel, 24 by 18, by H. Steven Oiestad will be given away in a raffle drawing at the Outwest Art Show. All funds go to Outwest's Young Masters Program providing scholarships for student artists in Central Montana.
Out West Art Show
With more than 126 artists displaying in individual rooms and seven galleries, you’ll find a great variety of styles, featuring landscape, Western, with some modern and sculpture too. “We have some new young artists as well as those that have been here for decades; approximately 50 of our artists have work in the Russell auction this year,” says Out West’s John Godwin. “The quick draws are always crowd-pleasers. This year we are doing a quick draw — blank canvas start — on Friday and a ‘quick finish’ on Saturday.” outwestartshow.net
For more information on Western Art Week, visit www.westernartweek.com and the websites of the respective events. Photography: Courtesy (featured) C.M. Russell Museum, (slideshow) Courtesy C.M. Russell Museum, Out West Art Show