Escape Magazine: A Magnet for Artists, Glacier Park Keeps Inspiring

By Beacon Staff

For centuries, the rugged wilderness now known as Glacier National Park has pulled at the hearts and minds of artists. This draw has resulted in countless works of art dedicated to the Crown of the Continent and the creativity it inspires.

This year marks the park’s official centennial celebration, and Montana’s artistic community has responded with exhibits and projects to help ring in the 100th year. Many of these works will be on show in the Flathead Valley throughout the summer, offering more unique facets for the celebration.

For local artist Nancy Cawdrey, the park’s magnetism is partially responsible for her move to the Flathead Valley. This year, Cawdrey was selected, among others, as one of the park’s official centennial artists.

Her piece, “The Crown Jewels,” is a visual feast of dye on silk. It features colorful animals interlocked with one another in front of a vast mountain backdrop. She spent months visiting and photographing the park and drawing various animals before stretching out the silk and painting.

“It came from all this research and hopefully my heart, that this is a colorful, wonderful, alive place,” Cawdrey said.

“The Crown Jewels” became one of the 14 pieces chosen for the Art of Preservation tour, which traveled throughout Montana last year and was auctioned on May 21.

Cawdrey’s piece, purchased by a group of five families during the auction, will now spend its summers in the park’s lodges for the benefit of all visitors. For more information, visit www.glacierparkcentennialart.com.

The Hockaday Museum of Art (406-755-5268; 302 Second Ave. E) in Kalispell will also host centennial-themed art this summer, with two exhibitions on highlighting the beauty and majesty of the park.

On June 15, the museum will host “John Fery: Artist of the Rockies.” This exhibition will feature multiple works of painter John Fery, who fell captivate to Flathead’s beauty in the 1890s.

His works, which range from portraits of Glacier Park’s most famous mountains to some of its most popular four-legged inhabitants, were commissioned by the Great Northern Railway to attract people to take trips along the railroad’s route and into the park.

The exhibit runs from June 15 to Sept. 18, with the opening reception held on June 17.

The Hockaday Museum will also begin the “100 Years, 100 Days: Photography by Chris Peterson” exhibition on June 15. Peterson, editor of Glacier Park Magazine and photographer for the Hungry Horse News, spent 100 consecutive days in Glacier National Park using both film and digital cameras to capture the park’s vast personality.

Inspired by Jim Brandenburg’s “Chased by Light: A 90-Day Journey,” Peterson decided to pursue his project last April and began his 100-day journey on May 1, 2009.

Each photograph in the exhibit will be accompanied by the story behind it

Peterson intends to keep up with his centennial theme by taking a 100-mile trek through the park and keeping handwritten records of his travels, which should be published later this year.

This year also marks the Hockaday’s 3rd Annual Plein Art Paint Out on June 23-25. This event gives 20 renowned Montana artists three days to create as many pieces of art as possible while stationed on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in the park.

Hockaday Director Liz Moss said the event will take place rain, snow or shine because of the centennial. Following the Paint Out, the works created will be sold at fixed prices at the Plein Air Party, Sale and Exhibition that will follow at the Hockaday Museum on June 26.

Following the sale, the paintings will go on display at Going To The Sun Gallery (406-862-2751; 137 Central Ave.) in Whitefish from June 27 – July 12.

For scheduling, admission prices and other events, visit www.hockadaymuseum.org.

The Museum at Central School (406-756-8381; 124 Second Ave. E) will host the statewide traveling exhibit “The Land of Many Stories: The People & Histories of Glacier National Park” beginning in June.

This exhibit, created by the Montana Historical Society, is made of reproductions of historic photographs, graphics and interpretive text to explore the many ways people have used the land in the park over time, beginning in times of “pre-European contact.”

According to the Historical Society, the exhibit highlights the changes in the park over the years but also illustrates how much has stayed the same, such as routes and trails.

Contact the Museum at Central School for the exhibit’ viewing schedule.

In Columbia Falls, 22 high school art students took a trip to Glacier Park last fall to inspire their own works of art. The students spent weeks translating the experience and ended up creating a stunning collection of art, highlighted by custom frames made by the Columbia Falls High School woodshop class.

Each piece will be auctioned off, with the proceeds benefiting the First Best Place Task Force in Columbia Falls and the students themselves.

The students’ collection will be in the park through July, spread out through the various magnificent lodges. The project and the auction culminate during Columbia Falls’ Heritage Days at the end of July.

For more information, or to bid on the student art, visit www.firstbestplace.org.

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