Montana-based painter Brent Cotton explains why he loves this San Antonio show so much.
Born in southern Idaho, 48-year-old painter Brent Cotton finds inspiration in nature. An avid outdoorsman, hunter, and flyfisherman, the largely self-taught artist went to school to become a guide straight out of high school, working on his art on the side. Later he attended workshops, mentored with Oklahoma artist Christine Verner, traveled a bit, and then spent time honing his skills as a landscape painter in Hawaii, where he met his Montana-born wife, Jennifer. Today, Cotton and his wife and their two children live in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. For him, nothing beats western Montana for inspiration for his work with its landscape, history, and outdoor lifestyle.
Montana’s Bitterroot Valley is the focus of Cotton’s entries for one of his favorite art shows, the Briscoe Western Art Museum’s Night of Artists. The big event along San Antonio’s River Walk has been drawing top-flight artists for two decades. “For me it’s a relatively new show,” Cotton says. “I think last year was my third year.” It was a bummer, he says, that Night of Artists had to be virtual last year because of the pandemic; even so, he made a splash at it, winning both the David Crockett Award for Artists’ Choice with Search Party and the William B. Travis Award for Patrons’ Award with Strike While the Iron Is Hot.
“Aside from being a beautiful museum and lovely area,” Cotton says, “I love the people, the hospitality. The staff is wonderful. They put on a first-rate show — artistic camaraderie, stellar collection of artwork. I look forward to that show every year so I can get out of the Montana winter!”
This year, Cotton’s palette knife has been busy preparing for Night of Artists, where he’s exhibiting Rise & Shine, an early morning scene on the Bitterroot River, and Best Buds, which depicts a man and his dogs walking down a path in a local wildlife refuge. They’re done in Cotton’s signature tonalism genre or luminist style. “There lots of warm light, especially in Rise & Shine,” Cotton says. “My work is kind of atmospheric, kind of dreamy, you might say.”
The 20th Anniversary Celebration of Night of Artists Exhibition and Grand Live Auction takes place on March 27 at the Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio. The public exhibition and sale runs March 28 – May 9. For details, visit the Briscoe Western Art Museum online.