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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.



The Other Yellowstone, Lee Silliman
August 25-November 28, 2016

The Other Yellowstone features 52 photographs by Montanan Lee Silliman.  Silliman’s black and white images were taken on his 8x10 inch view camera and offer a rare look at the backcountry landscape of Yellowstone.  Seventeen years of day hiking, mule packing, canoeing and back packing have led to this composition of images featuring rarely seen geysers, hot springs, mountains, canyons and more.  This show opens in conjunction with the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.  Silliman will offer a special lecture on the use of a 5x7 camera in the backcountry, free of charge, Tuesday, November 29th from 5-7pm!.

Lessons Learned, Ric Gendron
June 26, 2016 - October 10, 2016

Lessons Learned: Ric Gendron, will be featured at the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art from June 28 through October 28, 2016. This series of acrylic works were created by artist Ric Gendron, who has been painting for over three decades. Gendron is an enrolled member of the Arrow Lakes Band Colville, whose reservation is in northeastern Washington. An accomplished guitarist and avid music lover, Gendron can be found painting most days of the week, always accompanied by an eclectic array of music. After living in Spokane, Washington for many years, Gendron recently moved to Idaho and continues to paint full-time from his home studio. Recognizable and original traits in his paintings include intense color, exaggerated hands, broad strokes and often mouthfuls of Cheshire-like teeth.

In a book that was printed in conjunction with his 2012 solo exhibition at the Missoula Art Museum, Ric Gendron Rattlebone, he was asked about his motivation for painting. The artist stated, “Why do I paint? Everyone asks me. I suppose the reason for doing what I do in the first place is I feel this is the only way to say what needs to be said. People for the most part aren’t that interested in my words, but when I make marks on paper and canvas, they sometimes stop and notice. What’s important to me are the things that surround me, my family, my walks every day, friends, music, poetry, lost love, life, death. One of my main influences is my physical being. I don’t consider myself very attractive to others, and maybe that has helped me create some of the stark rawness of many of my paintings. And the songs, lyrics, stories, and poetry of the downtrodden, homeless, poor, maimed, starving people have always played an important role in my work.” (Ric Gendron Rattlebone, Ben Mitchell, 2012, University of Washington Press.)

Ric Gendron’s expressionist works have been shown in Missoula recently and across the Pacific Northwest extensively. His often larger-than-life paintings occupy both contemporary and traditional space. Gendron’s subject matter and iconography in Lessons Learned are “…influenced by a more primitive view of the spirit, back to fire and rocks, enveloped in a sweet darkness..." Gendron’s deeply personal works are often narrative in nature and evoke both his ancestors’ and his own journey through life. Directly inspired by his life experiences and Upper Columbia Plateau heritage (his father was Colville and his mother was is a member of the Umatilla Tribe), Gendron’s beautiful paintings offer a glimpse into one man’s journey. Join us for an opening reception and artist talk on Tuesday, June 28th from 5-7p.m. at Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art as we celebrate the opening of this exhibition and a fascinating contemporary artist of the West.

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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