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Prints Frome the Permanent Collection
November 10, 2016 - February 15, 2017

Printmaking is a way of making art.  A composition or design is transferred through contact with a matrix- which could be a block, stone, plate or screen.  The process can create multiples of the same piece of art, known as prints.  Multiple prints from the same plate are known as an addition.   Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art’s Permanent Collection contains 206 prints- both originals and editions.  Only a third of The Square’s prints are framed and available to share with our visitors.  Framed prints include 26 serigraphs of traditional tipi designs by the late artist Jessie Wilber as part of the “Blackfeet Portrait Project.”  12 prints were commissioned for an original exhibition at The Square, “The Caravan Project.”  Within the Permanent Collection there are a handful of additional framed prints, 15 of which you see here in this exhibition.

The prints housed in our vault that are unframed are diverse and profound.  These include 14 relief etchings by Betty LaDuke, 10 woodcuts by James Todd, 11 Branson Stevenson etchings, 10 beautiful figurative prints by Theodore Waddell and a separate series Waddell did with poet Paul Zarzyski.  These are some of the 138 unframed pieces we care for but are unable to display.  The Square is embarking on a framing campaign to bring some of these incredible works out of the vault. 

In this exhibition there are collographs by Terry Thall, Robert Rankin and Norman Dahl, a photo screen print/batik by Jean Price, Lithographs by Peter Volkous, and Daniel Beihl, etchings by  Jack Fisher Jr., Branson Stevenson, a woodcut by McCollough, a monotype by Susan Stewart-Medicine Horse, an embossed print by King Kuka, Intaglio pieces by Jack Fisher Jr.

Daydreams on Paper: Mercedes Brown
November 16, 2016 -January 13, 2017

“I have tried different mediums, but watercolor is my passion. It is unpredictable, exciting and fresh and it never obeys. It takes on a life of its own and the results are never the same.” -Mercedes Brown

Great Falls’ artist Mercedes Brown was born in the south Caribbean, on the island of Puerto Rico, which is located in a tropical climate zone. Mercedes's single mother packed their bags after her only child graduated from high school and relocated to New York City to further her own design career. Though Mercedes was only 16 years old at the time, her sight was set on attending college and she was accepted into Auburn University in Alabama. It was here that she met her husband, Jack Brown, who had enrolled in college after serving in the war. In 1953 she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and married; her husband joined the United States Air Force and went off to war again. Mercedes began taking courses through the Famous Artist School of Connecticut via the U. S. Postal Service (the equivalent of a modern day on-line course), to pass the time.

The Famous Artist School of Connecticut was founded in 1948 by Albert Dorne and the courses were led by accomplished members of the New York Society of Illustrators. Instructors included Norman Rockwell, John Atherton and Austin Briggs among others. Students would receive a painting, illustrating or cartooning lesson and work on it at home. Once completed, the work was mailed in to be critiqued by at least two instructors and the student was given feedback for improvements. The lessons focused on techniques about light, shadow, line work, color blending and other essential applications. 24 lessons in total were completed by the student, taking approximately three years. After completion of the course work, Brown picked up watercolor as her medium of choice and has been transferring her thoughts onto paper ever since.
Brown continued to paint as her family moved with her husband’s assignments to Japan, Maine and eventually Great Falls, MT. Here she took classes through Gallery 16, where she is currently a working member, and Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art. She learned from local talents Martha Mans, Betty Lynch and Dave Maloney and sketched scenes from around town with her friend Val Knight. It was Jean Halverson's workshop at The Square that got her hooked on the wet on wet style where the artist washes, or applies water, to the entire piece of paper to facilitate blending. Though her process leaves room for spontaneous results, the artist states, “Design is very important, one must start with good shapes, tonal values, patterns and colors.” Over the years she has won awards and been accepted into numerous shows and competitions. Perhaps the scenes in her paintings ,(often times based around nature), are influenced by the climate she grew up in. Her images possess a sultry quality and transport one to a place that is located in Mercedes's imagination. Daydreams on Paper invites the viewer to travel to a space embodied by peace and tranquility.

Light in Motion: Photography of Steve Wolff
November 28 - December 29, 2016 

Steve Wolff has been shooting photos as long as he can remember.  As a kid growing up in Montana, Steve spent his time exploring and climbing the mountains, camera in hand. A 20 year career in the U. S. Navy enabled Wolff to experience some of the world’s most amazing places. He captured moments within some of the most dangerous duty imaginable with film and photo. Wolff is embarking on his second career and studying photography at the University of Great Falls.

Light in Motion represents light captured while it is passing through incredibly beautiful locations in Montana. The time-lapses move through the light, framing the epic adventures across the mountains and prairies that Wolff embarks upon. The pursuit of light in photography is Wolff’s foremost quest and nature’s light forms moments that he seeks to preserve for the viewer with static, motion and long exposure shots. The moment can last hours or seconds and Wolff utilizes new technologies involving digital photography via Canon and GoPro cameras to encapsulate them. The time-lapse motion equipment is Dynamic Perception Stage Zero. Wolff’s use of this media allows for the viewer to truly experience the adventure as he captures the world in motion. “I like to tell a story. To put someone right where I am. Allow them to feel exactly what I did at that special moment. I invite you to experience the adventure.” 

Emergence: A Collective of Plains Indian Warrior Artists
October 20, 2016 – April 8, 2017

Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art invites you to experience the exhibition, Emergence:  A Collective of Plains Indian Warrior Artists, in the Thayer Gallery beginning October 20, 2016.  Emergence brings together an award-winning group of Native American artists from the Northern Plains: Robert Martinez, Lauren Monroe Jr., Louis Still Smoking, Ben Pease and John Pepion. The objective of this exhibition is to allow museum visitors to encounter powerful and diverse contemporary Native voices through a variety of mediums.  Join us in celebrating the innovative and expressive art work in this unique exhibit created by members of the newly formed collaborative group- Creative Indigenous Collective.  The Creative Indigenous Collective and this special exhibition honors imagery that celebrates contemporary indigenous art that is thought-provoking and empowering.   Artist and member of the Collective,  John Pepion, states, “I think it's time to tell the world of our stories from our perspective and not by a textbook or movie. I hope we can educate the public and build better relationships with museums, galleries and art centers.”   


Robert Martinez lives in Riverton, Wyoming and is a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe.  His work explores the dichotomy of traditional and contemporary life.  He grew up on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, experiencing Northern Arapaho, Chicano and Anglo culture, all of which shaped his life and thus his art.  He states, “I have always been interested in people.  Living in the West, I paint people I know- Native Americans, Cowboys, Trappers. I also paint people I admire- Medicine Men, Priests, Martial Artists.  I admire them for their dedication to their beliefs and their own ideals.”  The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian recently purchased a drawing of his for their permanent collection, he has won several awards in art shows and his work has been shown in the halls of Congress. 


Lauren Monroe Jr.’s art embodies his cultural heritage as a member of the Blackfeet Nation and communicates aspects of his personal journey through life.  Pikuni motifs and imagery appear in his acrylic paintings as well as scenes from reservation life where he grew up in Browning, MT.  His worked has been described as possessing “dream like qualities” that transcend time and communicate stories told through visual narratives.  Monroe is a working artist as well as a freelance film producer where he works in art production.  “My work creates a dialogue and conversation between non-natives and natives to get an understanding and appreciation of cultures,” notes Monroe. 



Louis Still Smoking resides in Pierre, South Dakota and is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe in Northern Montana.  In addition to being a painter, he co-owns a design studio with his wife Gina who is a member of the Lower Brule Sioux Nation.  Still Smoking states, “My work is very specific in nature to my culture and my personal views of the world.  I like to use very exploratory color fields in my compositions.  The use of color and the use of my Tribes cultural imagery are very important in building a good painting.  I try and rely on other modes of composition like Impasto layers and line to build a sense of realism.  The layers of paint allow for the viewer to focus on the subject with the ease of the handling of the paint.” Still Smoking Designs was created by Louis and Gina in 2013 who were looking for a platform to remedy some of the misrepresentation of Native people in mainstream media that reaches all forms of art, including fashion.  “We look at the fashion world as a blank canvas, and we use the authenticity of design, creation, and application through our own voices as Native people…We hope people can see Native fashion as a viable source for authenticity and a hub for sociopolitical commentary on what Native Americans deal with on a day-to-day basis.  We are not only limited to America, we understand being indigenous is worldwide.” 


Ben Pease is a young artist who is of both Crow and Northern Cheyenne tribal heritage.  Pease is currently a student at Montana State University studying studio art.  He works in mixed-media utilizing materials such as antique ledger paper and old photographs in addition to paint and ink.  Pease recently participated in the Out West Show in Great Falls, the Yellowstone Art Museum’s annual sale and has had a solo exhibition at the Emmerson Art Gallery in Bozeman.  “The primary reason I create art is to educate,” replied the artist when asked about his work. 




John I. Pepion is a member of the Blackfeet Nation who graduated from Two Eagle River High School in Pablo, Montana where he was selected to visit the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico during his senior year.  He became inspired to follow in the footsteps of several family members who had attended IAIA and enrolled in the Oscar Howe Art Institute in South Dakota. He started painting with watercolors in the Plains Indian ledger style in 2005. He begins each piece by illustrating ideas stemming from his personal life and cultural history and incorporates the colorful designs of the Blackfeet into his artwork. Today, Pepion is a rising contemporary graphic artist whose powerful imagery represents aspects of culture that intrigue the viewer and tell a story.



This programming is made possible by the generous support of our members and supporters, with ongoing support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Montana Arts Council and Cascade County.

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