Blog

20 03, 2024

The Other Storyteller: Bertha M. Bower & Charles Russell

2024-04-10T10:23:36-05:00March 20th, 2024|1 Comment

Our current exhibition, Charles M. Russell: Storyteller Across Media, centers around the artist’s talent to tell stories through his visual art. Famous for his narratives set in the open range of Montana, Russell wasn’t the only storyteller of the American West. In the early 20th century, Chip of the Flying U was a popular novel about a ranch in Montana and was written by B. M. Bower. Who was this writer? She was Bertha Muzzy Bower, likely the first female author of mass-market Western fiction.   Portrait of B. M. Bower, circa 1890. Courtesy Cascade County Historical Society [...]

21 02, 2024

The (Solved) Mystery of the Three Hoofprints

2024-04-10T09:35:42-05:00February 21st, 2024|2 Comments

Recently, I was spending some time walking with a colleague around our current exhibition, Charles M. Russell: Storyteller Across Media. We were lingering in one corner of the gallery that highlights a collection of objects and artworks centered around the subject of “counting coup.” What is counting coup? Counting coup was a system of graduated points wherein the first man to touch an enemy was awarded a first coup or “direct hit.” To count coup, one might use his hand, bow, lance, or perhaps rattles or whips.   Charles M. Russell | Counting Coup (Medicine Whip) | 1902 | [...]

17 01, 2024

Chasing Charlie Russell: Glacier to Great Falls

2024-01-25T15:27:12-06:00January 17th, 2024|0 Comments

This past summer, our director Scott Winterrowd took a work trip up to Montana to visit and document the sites where Charles Russell lived and worked. Throughout the cowboy artist’s career, he was not always specific about the landscapes he painted as backdrops for his artworks. Instead, like many other artists, Russell would translate what he saw through his artistic lens and his own way of looking at the world. Often, the resulting landscape would be a compression of the vast spaces of “Big Sky” country. One of the main points of inspiration for Russell was in what is now [...]

20 12, 2023

Plains Indian Sign Language and Charles Russell

2023-12-20T09:07:15-06:00December 20th, 2023|1 Comment

During his residence in Montana, Charles Russell encountered Indigenous people, both on the northern plains of the state and from neighboring tribes in Alberta, Canada. He lived in the area where Plains Indian Sign Language (PISL), also known as Hand Talk among the Native community, was an important communication system among the Plains tribal members. Due to his relationships with many members of nearby Indigenous tribes, Russell learned signs of PISL and incorporated them into some of his paintings.   Mapping of North American Indian Sign Language     Outline of corresponding tribes with various regional variations [...]

14 11, 2023

Bison in Texas Today

2023-12-11T15:26:53-06:00November 14th, 2023|0 Comments

Our current exhibit, Charles M. Russell: Storyteller Across Media, focuses on all the different art forms through which the artist communicated a story in his work. One of the common narratives in Russell’s art is that of the relationship between Indigenous people of the Great Plains and the American bison. (Note: while bison is the scientific name, buffalo is the more familiar term used today.)   Charles M. Russell | Wounded (The Wounded Buffalo) | 1909 | Oil on canvas | 19.975 x 30.125 inches   What does that relationship look like today? A great example is taking [...]

18 10, 2023

The Evolution of the Cowboy Hat

2023-11-06T14:03:58-06:00October 18th, 2023|0 Comments

Every cowboy hat has a story to tell. When you walk through our galleries here at the Sid Richardson Museum, you’ll not have to journey far before you encounter an artwork featuring a figure in a Western-style hat. But not each hat is the same. Every cowboy hat carries the history of its wearer, whether that be Mexican vaquero hats, Charro hats, the hats of western performers or rodeo stars, and of course the working cowboy hats. So let’s take a journey through some highlights from our collection to explore the evolution and different iterations of the cowboy hat.   [...]

20 09, 2023

The Impact of a Dude Rancher

2023-11-06T14:00:46-06:00September 20th, 2023|0 Comments

The impact of Charles Russell’s friendship with pioneer dude rancher Howard Eaton appears twice in our current exhibit, Charles M. Russell: Storyteller Across Media. The first occurrence is in Russell’s 1916 oil painting Man’s Weapons Are Useless When Nature Goes Armed. In the bottom left corner viewers will see an inscription to Eaton from his friend CMR.   Charles M. Russell | Man's Weapons Are Useless When Nature Goes Armed (Weapons of the Weak; Two of a Kind Win) | 1916 | Oil on canvas | 30 x 48.125 inches   Detail of Man's Weapons showing Russell's [...]

15 08, 2023

Westside Stories: Black Homesteaders

2023-11-06T13:40:12-06:00August 15th, 2023|0 Comments

What do we see when we picture the American West? Perhaps Native women, elderly Indigenous men, or Anglo cowboys. Commonly imagined through art and film, these have been the consistent images of the American West that are still accepted to this day and that, until recently, very few people have questioned. This imagined West was very real for generations of people and remains the way that, for many people, we picture this place. Another way the “Old West” is imagined and imaged is through erasure; a time and place that is supported by those we do not see. In a [...]

18 07, 2023

Russell & Friends, Part 2

2023-07-20T16:22:14-05:00July 18th, 2023|1 Comment

In our last blog post, we explored Charles Russell’s friendships with a couple of well-known artists, Maynard Dixon and Philip Goodwin, the latter of which Russell collaborated with on an art project at his summer cabin. Other artists and friends Russell collaborated with include Russell’s close friend and first serious art dealer Charles Schatzlein and Butte artist Edgar S. Paxon. The three Montanans painted a portrait of an American Indian, which our museum visitors will see on display in our current exhibit, Charles M. Russell: Storyteller Across Media. Schatzlein owned the Schatzlein Paint Company in Butte, Montana and admired Russell’s [...]

21 06, 2023

Russell & Friends, Part 1

2023-06-22T12:55:26-05:00June 21st, 2023|0 Comments

While Charles Russell led a successful artistic career, largely in part to the business savvy of his wife and manager Nancy Cooper Russell, not every creative output was intended for sale. His illustrated letters and even some significant paintings and sculptures were made specifically as gifts for the artist’s close friends. Some of these works were gifted to reciprocate the hospitality Charlie and Nancy received during their travels to promote his art. Who were these friends? A section of artworks featured in our current exhibit, Charles M. Russell: Storyteller Across Media, relate to the friendships Russell kept. The cowboy artist [...]