Artists around western Montana received nods this week with the announcement of the Governor's Arts Awards.
The winners are painter Monte Dolack, writer/filmmaker Annick Smith, author Rick Bass, visual artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Blackfeet traditional artist Jackie Parsons and Crow painter Kevin Red Star.
According to the news release, the honorees are picked by members of the public and then vetted by an arts award committee of the Montana Arts Council.
The awards will be handed out on Friday, Dec. 7, in the Capitol in Helena at 3 p.m. It's open to the public with a reception from 4:30-6 p.m.
From his home in the Yaak Valley, Rick Bass has published short stories, novels, nonfiction about the wilderness and threats to it, and even a collection of food writing. He's an "important national writer and a Montana treasure," as friend and fellow writer Thomas McGuane said in the news release, and his activism for Montana issues reaches an audience far beyond the state's borders.
Bass has also collected fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.
A love of the environment and a touch of surrealism and humor have made Monte Dolack's work ubiquitous for decades.
“Not only is he arguably the most famous artist in Montana, his work reflects the Montana we all know and love. His work represents so much of what we identify as Montana," according to the group who nominated him: John Keegan, Geoff Sutton, Tom Anderson, Gary Wolfe and Emily Heid.
Dolack maintained a studio in downtown Missoula from the 1970s until a few years ago, and during that time he made himself a staple of the art community on multiple fronts. Those who never made it a First Friday would likely see his work on the many posters for causes, frequently environmental, that he produces, plus his deep archive of movie posters and logos.
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, now based in New Mexico, was born in St. Ignatius and is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes. She pursued her career outside of Montana, curating exhibitions of work by indigenous women around the country. Last year at the Missoula Art Museum, "In the Footsteps of My Ancestors" surveyed her of commingling of abstract expressionism and politically and culturally themed imagery. In the nomination letter, MAM executive director Laura Millin and artist Anne Appleby wrote, "Jaune has been on the forefront of bringing contemporary Native art in the contemporary art of the world. She is an accomplished artist, lecturer and advocate for artists of color."
Smith also donated prints and works to the MAM's permanent collection, giving the museum a significant boost as it began a focus on collecting and exhibiting contemporary Indian art.
Annick Smith of Bonner was recognized for her work in both film and writing: she produced the 1979 film, "Heartland," and co-produced "A River Runs Through It," and made a documentary about Richard Hugo, "Kicking the Loose Gravel Home." On the literary front, she's published magazine nonfiction, a memoir and co-edited the classic Montana anthology, "The Last Best Place." Most recently, she and Susan O'Connor co-edited a multicultural anthology, "Hearth: A Global Conversation on Identity, Community, and Place."
Nominator Robert Stubbefield wrote, "Her generous and innovative efforts with Hellgate Writers and Yellow Bay Writers Workshop enriched and formed the literary community in our state. … Her work with the Sundance Film Institute and Independent Features Project provided opportunities for budding filmmakers and built the foundation for the current range of film and television projects being developed and produced right here in Montana.”
Jackie Parsons (Eck Skim Aue Kee)
Parsons, a former chair of the Montana Arts Council, is a "master traditional artist, producing beautiful beadwork, leatherwork and hand-crafted dolls. She promoted arts and crafts in her region for 35 years as director of the Northern Plains Craft Association," according to the news release.
The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian picked her to represent the Blackfeet Nation in its exhibitions.
Kevin Red Star
Kevin Red Star, a Crow artist who grew up on the reservation, was part of the inaugural class of students at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, has since become one of the most famous artists in Montana.
Abigail Hornik, one of the nominators, said his “deep experience is expressed in the color and composition of image after image. Each one is a complete statement in itself; each remains in the mind’s eye long after viewing it.”
His work has been collected by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the Whitney Museum of Western Art.