Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sugar Coated, Nickel Plated Ceegars


The Morris Brothers were here in Helena so early their business didn't even have an address, save for Main Street. This is a piece of billhead/letterhead that I acquired by trade from a patron who purchased one piece of J. H. McKnight paper from me, and commissioned me to put my art work on another similar piece which he supplied.

The only thing that the Morris Brothers didn't sell was whiskey, although I doubt that the whiskey was very far from their front door.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Old School Canoe


In March of 2013 during Western Art Week in Great Falls, Montana, one of my patrons brought me a piece of advertising from the Old Town Canoe Company. Their request was that I put some of my art work on this letterhead. Included in the envelope with this sales letter were two pieces of canvas so that potential customers could see and feel the difference between the quality and durability of their competitor's finished product, and that of the Old Town handcrafted canoe.

I investigated old advertising of the period and tried a number of different designs using that advertising to come up with an image I was satisfied which would fit on this piece of letterhead. The harder I tried, the bigger the funk.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I had a recollection of a C. M. Russell illustrated letter which depicted a Kootenai Indian canoe. I have a copy of the Brian Dippie book, C. M. Russell, Word Painter. It didn't take me long to find it.



This is the (cropped) first page of a two page letter Russell wrote to Philip Goodwin in October of 1907. The canoe in the upper right hand corner was done from a model constructed by a fellow from Kalispell, and it is still in the Museum in Great Falls. Russell explained in the letter that since the model had no 'thorts' (thwarts), it was not of much use as a model. I was torn. I didn't stay that way for very long.

The patrons who commissioned me to do this piece were the very first folks to purchase one of my pieces of old paper art. That art depicted another C. M. Russell piece, the original which sold in 2008 for over $5 million dollars. I delivered Old School a couple of weeks ago. They're happy, and so am I.    

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Stolen Cannon and the Battle of the Big Hole.


This is the companion piece to my post of yesterday, and depicted is a Mountain Howitzer, similar to the one taken from Fort Shaw, Montana Territory in 1877 by Colonel John G. Gibbon, to pursue over 750 Nez Perce Indians under Chief Joseph and Looking Glass. The Nez Perce had moved into Montana ostensibly to avoid being placed on a reservation, and their moving village consisted of approximately 90 tipis.

On Aug 9th and 10th of 1877, Colonel Gibbon lost not only 30 officers and enlisted men, but he also lost this cannon for a time. The two hundred pound barrel proved to be too much for the Nez Perce after its capture, so it was soon abandoned.

I've learned from the owner of this document that Mr. Phil Manix was a Civil War Veteran who for a time was the Post Trader at Fort Shaw, just as J. H. McKnight was. Manix moved on to Augusta where he ran a General Store. The building still stands and is still a General Store.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fort Shaw, M. T. 1876


This is a uniform cap device for a member of K Company, 7th Infantry stationed at Fort Shaw in 1876 when this letter was penned on T. C. Power letterhead/billhead. It is lined so that it could be used as a bill or receipt, although both pieces I have seen are penned letters.

This piece is especially interesting because of the nature of the correspondence, and the individual for which it was penned. "Please let Mr. Eraux (Ereaux) have one Sk good Flour  Send bill & Chg to a/c."

I am including a link to a story about a gentleman who was known by a number of different names, but Curley Ereaux was quite a character in his own right. This article, posted by Ken Robison on his blog, is well worth the read.

It is also to be noted that very little paper exists that lists T. C. Power as a Military and Indian Trader. This piece was completed as a commission for a gentleman from Great Falls, Montana.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gallery 16, Great Falls, Montana


This is one of sixteen pieces that I will have hanging for the month of September at Gallery 16 in downtown Great Falls, Montana. The Gallery participates in the Great Falls First Friday Art Walk, and I will be there from 5 PM until they throw me out or 9 PM, whichever comes first. I look forward to seeing some old friends and new folks from Great Falls and the surrounding area that may not be familiar with me - or my art.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Brackman's Grocers


This building is not at 1429 Helena Avenue. The actual address WAS 102 6th Avenue, which is the Northeast corner of 6th and Jackson. It was rendered from a photograph taken in the 1930's, and a very clear photograph it was. The building still stands, although the brickwork has been stuccoed over, and the entrance to the building is now on Jackson. As a matter of fact, the photograph was so good I could actually read the broadsides on the side of the building, but found it almost impossible to render them clearly enough to be readable. I was amazed that there would be an advertisement for a rodeo in Chinook, being that the rodeo grounds would have been at least 240 miles up the road. Also of note is the sign on the West side of the building advertising Klein & Bourne Flour, which would have been a locally produced flour. I have seen a label for Brackman's Mayonaise, produced and sold on the premises. History!