This exhibition focuses on pioneering artists with important Montana ties, who lived or traveled in Montana at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century and significantly contributed to the aesthetic and cultural milieu of the state. Included are Beatrice Howie Mackey, Frances Faick Walker, Fra Dana, Josephine Hale, Frances Carroll Brown, Marguerite O. Stevens, Evelyn Cameron and Mamie Elizabeth Burt as well as artists associated with Winhold Reiss’s Glacier School: Elizabeth Lochrie, Elsa Jemne, Caroline Granger, Maaron Glemby, Nellie Knopf, Katherine Leighton, Merle Olson and Lucile Van Slyck.
The creative output of these artists defies typical Western iconography. They abandoned imagery celebrating territorial conquest or the mythological cowboy. Instead, they turned toward adapting European pictorial traditions like French Impressionism to uniquely western subject matter, capturing the practical character and unsentimental aesthetic of the region through personal portraits and scenes of domestic life. Spontaneous photographs frequently documented specific moments in the history of the Treasure State, as in Marguerite Stevens’ 1911 photograph, First Flying Machine in Montana. Other works contemplate human frailty in an environment where natural forces overwhelmingly determined one’s daily experience. Viewers might identify such allegorical content in the wilting cabbage in a delicate still-life by Josephine Hale.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website