We talk with the owner of Montana’s Triple Creek Ranch about Western Art Week in Great Falls, March 18 – 22, the Russell auction, and the hundreds of artworks around his luxury property.
Craig Barrett had a decades-long distinguished career at Intel Corporation — including serving as chairman of the board, president, and CEO. Along the way he acquired a deep love of the West and the fine art that portrays it.
When he and his wife, Barbara, bought Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Montana, it was only natural that he fill it with gaze-inviting pieces.
C&I talked with Barrett about one of his favorite art auctions for growing his collection, the Russell, and the fruits of careful collecting.
Cowboys & Indians: You were born in San Francisco, got a PhD at Stanford University, and spent an illustrious career in high-tech/IT. What’s your connection to Montana and Triple Creek Ranch?
Craig Barrett: We came as guests about 30 years ago and fell in love with the place. We came back for five successive years as guests and then bought it. Our official residence is in Phoenix, but we spend half our time up here.
C&I: Tell us about your art collection.
Barrett: I’m a fairly prolific collector of Western art, paintings and sculptures, both contemporary artists who are still living and the deceased. Some of my favorites are the great masters like Charlie Russell, Joseph Sharp. Edward Borein, Edgar Paxson, E. Irving Couse, Remington — all of the old familiar names.
C&I: Western Art Week in Great Falls — March 18 to 22, 2020 — must be an exciting time around the ranch.
Barrett: I’ve been going to the Russell art auction for about 20 years. I’m on the board of the C.M. Russell Museum. The Russell art auction is a fantastic weekend of art for Great Falls and Montana. It’s one of the half dozen or so really key Western art auctions. It’s filled with the top Western artists and a wide variety of activities. There’s one auction for what I would call well-recognized artists and another for lesser-known and emerging artists. There are classic quick-draws, lectures on Western art, and educational events.
Around the Russell weekend [March 19 – 21, 2020] in mid-March in Great Falls the whole city is inundated with art and art lovers for the auctions and events associated with Western Art Week. Triple Creek Ranch is the presenting sponsor for the Russell this year, as we were last year.
C&I: What about art at Triple Creek Ranch?
Barrett: One of the things we do at Triple Creek is hold two to three art weekends a year with contemporary artists who come and teach tricks of the trade in painting and sculpting. Some of the artists include Carol Hagan, Nancy Cawdrey, Greg Kelsey, and Brenna Tyler.
Art is everywhere on the ranch. Every one of our 25 cabins is filled with original Western art, so are the lodge, the conference rooms, and the spa. My wife and I have a home on the property and our house is filled with Western art. There are numerous outdoor sculptures spread around.
At Triple Creek I have a lot of wall space. When we bought the ranch 26 years ago, there was no art here. As my wife likes to remind me, I’ve filled up all the wall space and have more to fill. It’s all original art. We really don’t have prints or copies. We have works that run all the way from the Russells to contemporary pieces. You can really steep yourself in art here.
Over the years what we’ve been able to do both by attending the Russell and having artist weekends here is to establish friendly relationships with the contemporary artists. It’s always fun to know the people and the story behind the art rather than just have the art.
There’s something north of 900 pieces of art here. If you asked me to name my favorite artist, it would be difficult, but Charles Russell, Borein, Olaf Seltzer, Joseph Sharp, Couse, Oscar Berninghaus. Everywhere you look, there are great works by contemporary artists, too, like Brent Cotton, Jason Rich, and a wide variety of up-and-coming artists.
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Photography: Images courtesy Bread & Butter PR