Friday, March 11, 2016

Western Art Week 2016: The Russell and March in Montana

CdA Galleries Room #120
It's one of the best weeks in the Western art world!  While it's definitely not one of the best places (sorry residents of Great Falls), Western Art Week has something for everyone from original paintings, sculptures, Indian artifacts, guns, spurs, weavings, and anything else you may want to buy or trade.  Collectors, dealers, and artists converge from all over the country to socialize, buy and sell classic American Western art.  The weekend features events at multiple locations from the C.M. Russell Museum, the Civic Center, the Heritage Inn, the fairgrounds to the Townhouse Inn.  The big draw is The Russell: The Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum with a lively auction, Skull Society booths, and a wonderful quick finish event at the Meadowlark Country Club.  It's an incredibly busy weekend, so I will layout a schedule of events below for the major events.

Andy Thomas painting at Western Art Week
Another major event is the March in Montana Auction and Dealer show presented by Manitou Galleries and the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction at the Townhouse Inn.  You can visit me at this event in room #120.  Be sure to stop by and visit!  The March in Montana Auction has such a unique vibe that's casual, energetic, and just good ol' fashion fun!  Did I mention there's a ton of artwork available for sale?  It's heartbreaking that this will be the last year for the March in Montana Auction at the Townhouse Inn, because the owners of the Townhouse Inn have decided to bulldoze and build a gas station.  It will be tough to find a new venue that has the character and vibe that existed for the March in Montana Auction, but teaming up with the OutWest Show and the Heritage Inn sounds like a no-brainer to me. It would be a win-win for everyone involved.  It would consolidate two terrific shows into one location making it easier for patrons to enjoy more art with less travel from one location to another.  It would bring a tremendous amount of qualified traffic to the Heritage Inn which would be awesome for the exhibitors there, and the auction would add a lot of energy to the Heritage Inn.  Not to mention it's a perfect venue to host an auction, and the March in Montana sale is during the day, so it doesn't interfere with the C.M. Russell Museum's events.  Unfortunately, for some reason, the OutWest Show organizers don't want to entertain the idea....

The OutWest Show at the Heritage Inn features roughly 140 exhibitors including galleries and lots of artists.  It's always fun to meet the artists and check out a large variety of works in different styles and subject matters.  I've talked about training your eye as a collector, and all it means is look at a lot of art, and walking down the halls of the Heritage Inn, you will quickly recognize the different caliber of artists, and you'll easily identify what you like and don't like.

A schedule of events is below; however, if you're looking for some must-do's for the weekend, first, visit me in room #120 at the Townhouse Inn, then be sure to check out the Quick Finish event hosted by the C.M. Russell Museum.  The Thursday night preview party at the C.M. Russell Museum is always a highlight and great time.  The auctions through out the weekend always offer great values on quality works, and if you're looking for something at night, be sure to grab a drink at the historic Sip-n-Dip and wave to the mermaids!  You may or may not find me there too...
The Russell Auction & Skull Society Artist Booths

The Russell: The Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum Schedule of Events

Thurs, March 17- Art Preview Party:  6pm-8pm at the Museum
Friday, March 18- Art in Action:  10am-2pm at the Meadow Lark Country Club
Saturday, March 19- Live Auction:  4:30pm at the Mansfield Convention Center


March In Montana Schedule of Events
The Townhouse Inn, 1411 10th Ave. South, Great Falls, MT

Thurs, March 17- Dealer Show and Auction Preview:  9am-5pm
Friday, March 18- Dealer Show:  9am-5pm
Auction Preview:  9am-5pm
Auction:  Noon
Saturday, March 19- Dealer Show: 9am-5pm
Auction Preview:  9am-5pm
Auction:  Noon

Out West Art Show
Best Western Plus Heritage Inn

Wednesday, March 16th - Saturday, 19th
10:00-8:00pm

Monday, February 15, 2016

Masters of the American West 2016 - Autry Museum of the American West

February 6, 2016, marked the annual Masters of the American West Exhibition at the Autry Museum in Pasadena, CA.  Featuring 75 nationally recognized, contemporary Western artists challenge themselves to create and exhibit their very best work.  Stylistically and thematically diverse, their works represent the extraordinary range of subject matter that contemporary, historic, and mythic Western experiences inspire.  The 2016 Masters was dedicated to the life and legacy of longtime Autry trustee and Masters special advisor John J. Geraghty.  Geraghty passed away on May 27, 2015, following a battle with cancer.  During the annual "Artist's Dinner", a variety of emotions floated through the air from excitement to the somberness of Geraghty's absence.  Personal stories from artists quickly lifted the energy for the evening and carried it throughout the weekend.

Once again, the quality of works exhibited was impressive as the artists obviously attempted to put their best foot forward.  There were so many terrific works, but I thought the works by George Carlson, Logan Maxwell Hagege, Kyle Sims, Kyle Polzin, and Benjamin Wu really stood out. However, the consistency of Morgan Weistling, Z.S. Liang, John Fawcett, and Tim Shinabarger never ceases to amaze me.  The attendance was strong and the energy was high on opening night as nearly 50% of the 257 total works were sold, and more will surely sell before the exhibition is over. Howard Terpning's "The Honor of Being Pipe Carrier" measuring 40x32 inches sold for $811,000. Here are this year's award winners:

  • James R. Parks Trustees' Purchase Award:  Tammy Garcia, Gold
  • Thomas Moran Memorial Award:  Howard Terpning, The Honor of Being Pipe Carrier
  • Norris Foundation Award for Sculpture: Richard Greeves, Ni-U-Kon-Ska, Corps of Discovery
  • Watercolor Award:  Dean Mitchell, Trail Town Window
  • Bob Kuhn Wildlife Award:  Kyle Sims, Vertigo
  • Don B. Huntley Spirit of the West Award:  Logan Maxwell Hagege, Riding On Luck
  • Artist's Choice Award:  Len Chmiel, Portrait of Unseen Death Valley
Overall, I thought the show was very successful, and it goes to show that quality sells no matter what the market conditions are.  Collectors are more discerning now than ever, so artists have to continue to challenge themselves to put out the best paintings they can.  John Geraghty's passing is a tremendous loss to the Western art world, and the effects will be felt most at the Masters of the American West Show.  John Geraghty did so much to make that show one of the premier Western museum shows in the country, so it will be very interesting to see what's in store for the annual exhibition.
Me with legendary Stuart Johnson & his beautiful wife Melody

Buddy Le & Mark Maggiori (have to check out his work!)

Award-winning artist, Kyle Sims and Buddy Le

Tim & Roxane Shinabarger (best wildlife sculptor in the country)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

5 Deceased Artists To Add To Your Collection In 2016


I am constantly asked for my opinion as to who I think are artists to watch for and worth adding to their collection.  There are a plethora of deceased artists to choose from, so with the annual C.M. Russell Show right around the corner, I've decided to lean towards Montana artists.  The Taos Founders will make up another conversation.  Here are 5 artists to consider for 2016.

1.  Edgar Paxson (1852-1919) - I've felt that Paxson has been a good value for several years now.  We love the historical significance of his life in Montana.  He was a good friend of Charlie Russell and his arrival to the frontier occured during the Nez Perce War.  With the rapid changes occurring in Montana, Paxson's goal was to capture the Old West as he knew it.  One of Paxson's most recognized paintings hangs at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center titled "Custer's Last Battle On The Little Big Horn."  The price points of his work make it highly collectable for all levels of collectors, but be sure to hold out for the finest example of his work.

2.  Olaf Seltzer (1877-1957) - It is getting more and more difficult for collectors to acquire a quality painting by O.C. Seltzer.  Fewer and fewer works by Seltzer are hitting the open market, and when a fantastic example presents itself, it typically sells for an impressive price.  For years, I thought Seltzer's work was under valued, but his prices at auction for quality works has steadily grown over the past 3-4 years.  Seltzer lived in Great Falls, MT and was heavily influenced by another Great Falls artist by the name of Charles Russell.  Russell's influence is evident in Seltzers work and in 1926, Seltzer moved to New York to complete several Russell commissions and further his own career.  While Russell's prices continue to climb, it inevitably lifts the value of artists like O. C. Seltzer.  If you've ever considered adding a Seltzer to your collection, sooner rather than later would be my advice.

3.  John Fery (1859-1934) - It's been an eventful year in the market for John Fery's work.  First, there was a fantastic book released on his life and work.  The book was wonderfully written by Larry Len Peterson who gave us the Philip Goodwin book, The Call of the Mountains, and Photographing a Legend, the more recent Charles Russell in photographs book.  Next, was the world record price set at the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction in Reno for "Avalanche Lake" which sold for $117,000 in July.  We feel that the addition of a John Fery painting should be done with caution as condition and subject matter can be an unpleasant surprise and affect values from one painting to the next.  Don't hesitate to use me as a resource if you have any questions on purchasing or selling Fery's work.

4.  George Browne (1918-1958) - George Browne is our sleeper pick for 2016.  A nice oil of George Browne's is VERY hard to come by so act accordingly.  The fact that he died at the young age of 40 limits the supply of his work.  You can still come across a great piece of his if you are patient and strike when the opportunity presents itself.  Any artist who gets a recommendation from Carl Rungius is, in our opinion, a must add for any collection.  George was a full blown adventurer and was the first person to survive a parachute jump from 40,000 feet.  There is a great book on the life of George Browne and his father Belmore Browne that you can purchase HERE.

5.  William Standing (1904-1951) - When you take a look at the life of an artist, they all pale in comparison to the life of William Standing.  He was a full blood Assiniboine Indian living on the reservation in eastern Montana.  His life and art are chocked full of statements about the plight of the life on the reservation during the first half of the twentieth century.  My gallery has been very active in the Standing market as we feel his story is one worth telling.  His life was also shortened when he passed away in an auto accident in 1951.  While Standing's work is not to the level of the artists mentioned above, his value and collect-ability are ideal for anyone looking to break into collecting deceased Western artists from Montana.

Honorable Mention

Winold Reiss (1886-1953) - In 1919, Reiss became an honorary member of the Blackfeet Indians who called him "Beaver Child."  Reiss studied at the Royal Academy of Munich and was inspired by the novels of James Fenimore Cooper.  The Great Northern Railway purchased 81 of his Indian portraits and used his work in a variety of their marketing materials.  Reiss worked in pastels and his colorful interpretations were a reflection of his compassion towards people of different races.  Until 2015, very few works by Reiss come to the market, and when a good selection sold at the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction in 2015, they sold very well.


As a collector of Classic Western art,  if you would like to discuss how we can help you build a collection that will withstand the test of time, give us a call.  We are always on the lookout for great pieces and would love to include you when we come across any gems.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

2016 Western Art Auction Guide

It's hard to believe that I've been in the Western art industry for 10 years!  I've seen a lot in those ten years, but a few things that stand out to me are how many more auctions there are today compared to ten years ago, and the impact of having information at our fingertips.  Collectors are more savvy than ever, and the days of dealers purchasing rare works and selling them at exorbitant mark ups is all but over.  It's as easy as whipping out your phone to find out what works by specific artists go for, and to gauge the market for deceased artists.  That's why I take the approach of education, where if you know as much as me, then you understand why a painting is priced the way it is.  In the American Western art market, specialized auctions play a huge role in the acquisition and liquidation of Western and wildlife art.  Not all auctions are created equal, so consider all your options if you're considering selling.  Here is a breakdown of the major Western art auctions for 2016, so you can plan your travels accordingly, and if you can't make it to a sale, contact me and I am happy to represent you in bidding, inspection, and research for works you may be interested in adding to your collection. Stay tuned, because I'll be following this up with the Museum calendar of events.  I hope to see you on the Western art trail!

Brian Lebel's Old West Events
January 23, 2016  ~  Mesa, Arizona
www.oldwestevents.com

The Russell:  An Exhibition & Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum
March 17-19, 2016  ~  Great Falls, Montana
www.cmrussell.org/the-russell

March in Montana:  Presented by Manitou Galleries & The Coeur d'Alene Art Auction
March 17-19, 2016  ~  Great Falls, Montana
www.marchinmontana.com

Altermann Auctions
March 31 & April 1, 2016  ~  Scottsdale, Arizona
August 12-13, 2016  ~  Santa Fe, New Mexico
November 13, 2016  ~  Santa Fe, New Mexico
www.altermann.com

Scottsdale Art Auction
April 2, 2016  ~  Scottsdale, Arizona
www.scottsdaleartauction.com

Bonhams: California & Western Paintings/Sculpture Auction
April 12, 2016  ~  Los Angeles, CA
www.bonhams.com

Fredericksburg Art Auction
April 30, 2016  ~  Fredericksburg, Texas
www.fredericksburgartauction.com

Heritage Auctions:  American Art Signature Auction
May 7, 2016  ~  Dallas, Texas
www.ha.com

Coeur d'Alene Art Auction
July 23, 2016  ~  Reno, Nevada
www.cdaartauction.com

Jackson Hole Art Auction
September 16-17, 2016  ~  Jackson Hole, Wyoming
www.jacksonholeartauction.com

Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale
September 23-24, 2016  ~  Cody, Wyoming
www.buffalobillartshow.com

Great American West Auction
October 29, 2016  ~  Grapevine, Texas
www.greatamericanwestauction.com

Santa Fe Art Auction
Fall 2016 - Date to be Announced  ~  Santa Fe, New Mexico
www.santafeartauction.com

Phew! Remember, don't hesitate to comment below and share your thoughts!

Friday, January 15, 2016

3 Factors Affecting the Art Market in 2016

Happy  New Year!  I thought the turning of the calendar to a new year was a great time for us to take a look at trends and events we think will affect the western art market in the upcoming year.  Stay tuned for the 2016 auction calendar of events, museums to visit, artists to watch in both the historical Western market and contemporary Western market, and of course, ideas and art news on building a valuable lasting collection.  Let me begin with three factors I think will affect the Western art market in 2016.

Black Gold by Andy Thomas
The first factor is the price of oil.  While there are some in the market who will disagree, I think this is by far the biggest factor to impact not only prices but the supply of western art to hit the market.  Over the last few years many of the new collectors that have come into the market have been from the oil sector.  We have seen this trend in our dealings at the Charles Russell western art week in Great Falls, various auctions, and through my conversations with collectors. New found wealth from North Dakota has provided new buyers the last few years. The question is will those buyers be back?

The second factor is the rise of more art auctions specializing in Western art.  While The Coeur d'Alene Art Auction remains the premier auction, with the Scottsdale sale following them, there have been several new auctions hitting the scene including the Fredericksburg auction, Great American West auction, and a renewed focus on classic Western art by larger auction houses like Christies, Sothebys, Bonhams and Heritage. All of these sales are fighting for top quality works and there just aren't enough great paintings to go around.  In our circle of collectors, we hear more and more grumbling because of the high premiums charged to both the buyer and sellers (in fact - the commissions I charge to liquidate a collection or a single painting is often less than most auctions houses charge). I've also noticed the buy-in rate or pass rate at auctions is increasing.  Academic research by Beggs and Graddy shows that a pass on a painting at auction will in effect have a 30% decline in the value of the painting.  Another effect from the glut of auctions is the amount of sub-par works that are being offered.

Finally, the third factor is the increased competition for quality works by sought after artists.  Where getting works to their galleries used to be a high priority for artists, now there are museum shows, the above mentioned auctions, and an increased number of commissions.  As the collection factors for artists grow, so do the demands placed on them.  Whether you're purchasing from a gallery, auction, museum show, or directly from the artist, explore all your options when acquiring new works.  Lean on your trusted resources in the industry, and as I always say, don't hesitate to pull the trigger!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Scottsdale Art Auction 2015 Cruises to $13.7 Million

Martin Grelle's "Snake River Culture" 48x60 inches
The 2015 Scottsdale Art Auction posted their second highest sale ever on their way to $13.7 million. As usual, the Scottsdale Art Auction was split up into two sessions offering 339 lots. I thought the first session had its biggest crowd since the auction started doing two sessions. While it's nice to have the 90 minute break between sessions, it still makes for a very long day, but Jason Brooks, the auctioneer, kept a rapid and steady pace.  Without any works estimated over $1,000,000, the partners at the Scottsdale Art Auction have to be extremely pleased with posting their second highest total since their initial sale in 2005. The prices overall were pretty strong, and I was surprised to see so many living artists carrying the sale.  Artists like Howard Terpning, Martin Grelle, G. Harvey, and Kyle Polzin realized big prices that were well over their high estimates.  G. Harvey's "History in the Making" measuring 36x48 inches set a new world record for the artist realizing $409,500.  Kyle Polzin had three works in the sale and all three sky-rocketed beyond their high estimates.

Kyle Polzin's "Home is Where You Hang Your Hat"
There were a number of dealers in the room shaking their heads trying to figure out who Kyle Polzin is, but over the past 7-8 years, the frenzy for Polzin's work has grown like the U.S. deficit.  When an artist sets a record for their own work like Polzin did last year selling for $287,500, it captures the attention of collectors, but it's important to see if it was an anomaly or the beginning of a major trend upwards in his prices.  The frenzy and hype around Kyle Polzin's work is reminiscent to another amazing artist by the name of Martin Grelle.  Martin Grelle's market continues to be as strong as ever, and just when most people think the prices for Martin's work is going to hit a ceiling, a dozen works will sell at auction for well above the high estimates.  If you want to add a Grelle painting to your collection, my advice, be aggressive...or call me!  Martin Grelle's "Snake River Culture" measuring 48x60 inches sold for $549,900.

Who wants cookies?
There were plenty of deceased artists that did very well too.  The Bob Kuhn market continues to lead the wildlife market, and Charlie Russell's contemporary Olaf Seltzer is in high demand. There were come gorgeous Joseph Sharp works painted in Montana that sold well including "Evening on the Big Horn" measuring 12 x 18 inches and realizing $228,150 on a $90,000-$120,000 estimate.  Midway through the sale, people got up out of their seats and started streaming towards the exit like someone pulled the fire alarm.  I quickly realized that it was just the highly-anticipated chocolate chip cookies to give bidders a nice little sugar rush.

I found it interesting that there was a buzz from patrons about the abundance of Western art auctions across the country.  I've said before that the Western genre is rapidly growing, and the total number of Western works that have and will sell in the first 5 months at auction supports that growth.  The Western works are not only selling, but they're selling for good prices.  So far in 2015, we've had the March in Montana auction, The Russell: the Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum, Altermanns Auction, Scottsdale Art Auction, and this weekend we have a good sale at Heritage Auctions and the inaugural Fredericksburg Art Auction.  We can't forget about the works Bonhams presented and the highly-anticipated Christie's auction featuring select works from the Bill Koch collection.  When you tally it all up, that's over 2,500 lots!  We still have the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction in July, the Jackson Hole Art Auction in September, and the Santa Fe Art Auction in November.  Between all the auctions and museum shows, it's no wonder why the gallery business is getting squeezed.  However, is the pendulum swinging?  We're seeing more and more private treaty sales, because collectors like the confidentiality, and some of the best quality works rarely make it to auction, because they're sold privately.

Joseph H. Sharp "Evening on the Big Horn" Sold for: $228,150

Philip Goodwin "Their Lucky Day" Sold for: $198,900

G. Harvey "History in the Making" sold for: $409,500

William R. Leigh "Scouting The Crags" Sold for: $468,000

Chad Poppleton "Market Fresh" Sold for: $10,530

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Russell: C.M. Russell Museum and March in Montana Recap

I recently returned from Western Art Week in Great Falls, MT.  I have to begin by thanking all of the collectors who purchased a painting from me in my exhibit room #120 at the Townhouse Inn!!  I appreciate your patronage, and the highlight of the weekend is catching up with all the great collectors of Western art!  If you like Western art, the festivities in Great Falls in March is a must at some point in your art collecting journey.  It can be overwhelming because there are so many events at different venues, and there's a lot, and I mean a LOT of art to look at.  Obviously, the main attraction is The Russell: The Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum.  Their show consists of a terrific auction that features both historical works and works by contemporary artists.  They also host the Skull Society of Artists, which are 21 artists that the C.M. Russell Museum chooses to exhibit at the Mansfield Center.  It's a terrific honor for artists to be selected as a Skull Society Artist, and collectors can purchase their work which are exhibited at the Mansfield Center where the Russell auction is also held.  The museum's Saturday night auction consists of works by some of today's leading contemporary Western artists as well has rare works from deceased artists like Charles Russell, Edgar Paxson, O.C. Seltzer, John Fery and William Standing to name just a few.  If you want to attend the auction, purchase your tickets early, as this year, the event sold out.  The C.M. Russell Museum posted a gross total of $7.8 million in sales, which includes sales from the auction, Skull Society Artist sales, and their Art in Action event where 100% of the proceeds go to the museum.  The auction itself grossed $6.5 million and over a third of that total was from the sale of two original paintings by Charles Russell.  The C.M. Russell Museum has to be pleased with the results, and it's fantastic to see so much support for a fantastic institution.

The other major event in Great Falls for Western Art Week was the March in Montana sale and exhibitor show.  Manitou Galleries and the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction partner up to put on this event, and it's always worth checking out!  It's hard not to love that most lots in the auction are either low reserve or no reserve.  March in Montana posted just over $2 million in sales from their auction this year, and having a front row seat, I can say they were getting strong prices in their sale.  Bob and Char Nelson have also steadily upgraded their exhibitors at the Townhouse, which makes for a terrific compliment to the works featured in the auction.  Their two day sale features everything from paintings, bronzes, weavings, spurs, saddles and guns.  If you like to "collect" then you'll feel right at home at the March in Montana sale at the Townhouse Inn.  With the John Fery book being released recently by Larry Len Peterson, the John Fery market is picking up some well deserved momentum.  I've always thought John Fery's market was under-valued, and I wouldn't be surprised to see more works come to the market, and fetch strong prices.  If you're in Great Falls for Western Art Week, then spending some time at the Townhouse Inn is a must.  The vibe is laid back and stress-free, but also energetic and amusing.  The familiar faces and camaraderie makes it feel like Grandma's house on a holiday with all the smiles and laughs, but without the drama and tension.  You might even get the drunk uncle with the great story you've heard a million times.  All in all, it makes for a tremendous amount of fun buying, selling, and trading!

Finally, the Out West Show seems to be making a nice revival at the Best Western Heritage Inn.  The quality of galleries and artist who exhibit are as good as they get in the Western art world, and if you can find the time, it's worth checking out.  All the festivities in Great Falls during Western Art Week is what makes it worth traveling to Great Falls, MT in March.  Here are a few photos from the weekend, and my next trip will be to Scottsdale for the Scottsdale Art Auction.  I hope to see you there!
The Russell with Skull Society booths
"For Supremacy" by Charles Russell; hammered $1.5 million

"Scouting Party" by Charles Russell; hammered for $950,000
Just a couple good-looking guys solving the art world's problems...

Chad Poppleton at the C.M. Russell Museum's Art in Action

Joe Kronenberg at the C.M. Russell Museum's Art in Action

CdA Galleries Exhibit Room #120 at the Townhouse Inn

CdA Galleries Exhibit Room #120 at the Townhouse Inn

CdA Galleries Exhibit Room #120 at the Townhouse Inn

Andy Thomas at the C.M. Russell Museum's Art in Action

Thursday, February 12, 2015

John Fery Book - Artist of Glacier National Park

The very highly anticipated book on John Fery, the Artist of Glacier National Park, is finally set to be released.  I've always felt like John Fery's work is extremely under-valued, because he has a great following and collector base, and more importantly, his impact on Glacier National Park is unrivaled.  The book is written by Larry Len Peterson, one of the most respected authors in Western art.  This is definitely a book you want to add to your collection of art books.  Below, is information straight from the publisher, the Coeur d'Alene Art Auction.

John Fery's "Swiftcurrent Falls"


In John Fery’s lifetime, more Americans saw his art in person than almost any other artist. Train depots, hotels, universities, ships, travel agencies, and corporations all proudly displayed his magnificent paintings. What was not familiar was the man behind these impressive landscape paintings not only of Glacier National Park but also many other vistas of The American West. This biography makes use of 284 illustrations that document a remarkable life while also presenting the people and times in which Fery lived. More than that, it explains in detail the relationship between John Fery and his main patron, Louis W. Hill of Great Northern Railway fame.

Born Johann Levy in 1859 to a well-to-do family from Hungary, Fery was smitten early on with painting the Alps. After the death of both of his parents when he was just a teenager, Johann sought formal art training in Vienna, Munich, and Düsseldorf. By the early 1880s he had changed his name to John Fery and was hired on by German immigrant painters to work on cycloramas in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Subsequently, along with his French wife Mary, he traveled through the Hudson River Valley in New York; lived in Cleveland for a while; explored Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and eventually located to booming Duluth, Minnesota where he worked on a mural for the Fitgar Brewery. In 1895 it was there that a young Louis W. Hill working for his famous father, James J. Hill, fell in love with Fery’s art.

Years later, in 1910 Louis Hill hired John Fery to paint the scenery of Glacier National Park. These paintings were used as promotional tools to entice tourists to ride the train to the park and stay at the chalets and lodges that the Great Northern Railway built from 1910 to 1915. When that highly successful commission ended, Fery headed to California and was hired by the Southern Pacific Railway to paint Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and other views of California and Arizona.

Thereafter, Fery wandered the West painting landscapes in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. John and Mary Fery lived for awhile in Salt Lake City where several dealers sold his paintings, and he garnered commissions from a number of patrons to not only paint the Wasatch Mountains, but also the canyon lands of Bryce and Zion.  In 1925 Fery once again was hired to paint Glacier country, especially the area around the newly constructed Prince of Wales Hotel (1927) in Canada just north of Glacier National Park. Later, he moved to the Puget Sound area and spent his final days there before dying in 1934.  Alongside Peterson’s engrossing tale of the life of this great painter, the 284 illustrations offer an unprecedented selection of Fery’s works—a view at once panoramic and intimate.

About the Author:  Dr. Larry Len Peterson is a native of Plentywood, Montana and a frequent visitor to Glacier National Park. His publications include The Call of the Mountains: The Artists of Glacier National Park; Philip R. Goodwin: America’s Sporting and Wildlife Artist; L. A. Huffman: Photographer of The American West; and Charles M. Russell: Photographing the Legend, A Biography in Words and Pictures. Peterson is the recipient of two Western Heritage Awards and the Scriver Bronze.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Masters of the American West Show - Autry Museum

The Autry’s Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale opens Saturday, January 31, 2015 with a full day of events.  Those events include a couple of presentations, a book signing by Z.S. Liang, and award luncheon and it all culminates in the cocktail reception and fine art sale.  The Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale features over 75 of the country's premier contemporary Western artists.  The Autry challenges them to present their very best work, and the result is an amazing exhibition of some of the finest Western and wildlife art in the country.  Stylistically and thematically diverse, their works represent the extraordinary range of subject matter that contemporary, historic, and mythic Western experiences inspire.

All the works are sold by draw with the exception of five pieces that will be auctioned off live. The live auction pieces include works by Howard Terpning, Morgan Weistling, Mian Situ, Kyle Polzin, and Z.S. Liang.  Tickets for the event are $270 for nonmembers of the Autry and $195 for members.  To view the opening day schedule, click here.  To view a list of participating artists, click here.

Ticket includes:  

  • Museum Admission
  • Exhibition Catalogue
  • Presentation by Artist Walter T. Matia
  • Chuck Wagon Luncheon and Awards Presentation
  • Panel Discussion with Art Collectors and Gallery Owners
  • Ballot Book
  • Cocktail Reception and Fine Art Sale
You can view all the works in the sale by clicking here.  Below are some terrific highlights, but I want to point out a few works I think deserve some attention.  Logan Maxwell Hagege's work continues to progress and it seems like he just keeps getting better.  He has a style all his own, which is difficult in this day and age.  I've met the model for "Turquoise Beads" and she's as stunning in real life as in Hagege's painting.  Luke Frazier's work seems to have gone to the next level.  We just don't see enough paintings like "Autumn Flush."  John Fawcett is extremely talented and his work in both watercolors and oils are as consistent in quality as you can get.  Greg Beecham's work is always dynamic and you can feel the texture of the bark in  Kyle Sims' "The Perch."  If you're going to buy a sculpture, it's hard to beat the works of Tim Shinabarger's impressionistic bronzes.  There are so many talented artists in this exhibition that it's impossible to pick a favorite, so you just have to attend and see all the incredible works for yourself.

Howard Terpning


John Fawcett

Luke Frazier

Logan Maxwell Hagege

Kyle Sims