Dudley Dana loves painting – he owns a gallery, after all. And he loves running so much he was on the original committee to start the Missoula Marathon.
He’s bridged the two interests with “Art of the Run,” a show at the Dana Gallery of paintings, watercolors and more inspired by humans on foot and in motion.
“My love of art and my love of running came together,” Dana said.
Because so many marathons are competing for runners, “having an art exhibition along with it is kind of a unique twist,” he said.
In keeping with Dana’s love of running, the gallery is splitting the proceeds from the show with Run Wild Missoula, the nonprofit that puts on the Missoula Marathon.
Last year, Dana even moved his gallery’s annual plein air paint-out to coincide with the marathon. The pool of visiting artists painted on the spot over the race weekend and left with photo references for later.
“They created pieces during the year, and now they’re back for the paint-out this year,” Dana said.
In addition to those artists, “Art of the Run” includes community members who submitted their work for an art call.
The final juried show includes about 40 pieces, including Parvin, Francis Switzer, Steve LaRance Louis Lamontagne, Michael and Megan Blessing, R. David Wilson, David Mensing, Matt O’Connor and more.
The artists took varied approaches to the problem of illustrating action in a medium more conducive to still life.
Michael Blessing, a Missoula artist, created a realist oil painting of two female runners stretching, their eyes glaring with the pre-exercise anticipation, and appropriately titled the piece “Focus.”
O’Connor took a humorous tack, rendering a series of animals in marathon gear ramping up in downtown. (While their gear indicates it’s the Missoula foot race, an Ovando bear is toting a half-full pitcher of beer.)
Parvin, an artist in her 70s from Seattle, offered the largest and most successful paintings. Her runners, rendered in bright, unreal color, are moving toward the viewer on an abstract, highly textured background.
“Her pieces are just phenomenal,” Dana said.
Previous partcipants in the marathon will recognize some other pieces in the gallery – a series of casts of runners’ legs decorated in a variety of styles and colors. Dana arranged those to be used as mile markers for the first several Missoula Marathons.