2019-03-01 Western Art Collector

(Martin Jones) #1
Western Art News

Words from the Past

The C.M. Russell Museum marks 50 years of
fifth-grade essays about Charles M. Russell.


very year during the
lead-up to The Russell:
An Exhibition and Sale to
Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum,
fifth-grade students across Cascade
County, Montana, are asked to
write an essay answering the
question “Why is Charlie Russell
Important?” Winners are selected
from each school and are invited
to tour the museum and meet
Nancy Russell, portrayed by the
C.M. Russell’s artist in residence
Mary Jane Bradbury.
This year the museum will
mark 50 years of the annual
essay contest, and to celebrate
The Russell has unearthed some
of the earliest examples from the

contest. In one essay from 1970,
Paula Egan writes: “I like Charlie
especially for his determination.
His boyhood dream was to
become a cowboy and his
determination brought him to the
West where his dream came true.
I like this great artist in every way
and am proud to be from Charlie
Russell country.”
In another essay from 1970,
Bartly Dzivi writes: “[Russell]
was a real cowboy, not some
dude from St. Louis. Of course
he was not some grim-faced
cowboy either. He had a sense
of humor. He said what he felt
and felt what he said.
I also admire him and envy
him because he was free on the

range. He wanted the range to
stay free too. He did not like
the Indians to be rounded up
like stray cattle. Nor did he
want farmers putting up fences
shutting off the free land. When
the prairies were fenced off and
fastly becoming an agriculture
area, he used the mountains
as a last resort to get close to
nature. The reason I like Charley
Russell best is that he was a fine
Montanan and a real good man.”
Modern essays run slightly
longer and show a wealth of
information, a possible product
of the ease of research in the age
of the internet. “Jake Hoover,
the owner of the ranch Russell
worked on, once asked about the

conditions on the ranch,” Mason
D. wrote in 2018. “Russell drew
him a picture to show exactly
what was going on.”
“Charlie was a hardworking
young man. He worked during
the day, and painted at night.
He never expected things to be
given to him. His paintings were
sold in exchange for lodging
and food,” wrote Madisyn P.
in 2018. “This teaches our
present and future generations
that it is important to work hard
for what you want, develop
responsibilities, and have a
good work ethic. We should not
expect things to be given to us,
but to work hard for them like
Charlie did.”

Artwork is sold at auction at The Russell: An Exhibition and Sale to Benefit the C.M. Russell Museum.
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