Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Miles City Fire Engine, No. 1

I have taken photographs of the No. 1 Miles City Fire Engine, Seagrave build number 16667. It is slowly being restored. The radiator badge was in fine shape. It is cloisonné, and truly the shining crown to a piece of fire apparatus that's almost a hundred years old. The monogram above the emblem is my rendition of what I think the hood lettering looks like. It is so terribly faded that it was hard to determine what it originally looked like.

Above is a photograph of the Miles City Monogram on the hood. It is surrounded by painted filigree scroll work.

Above is a factory photograph of a 1916 Seagrave Chemical Motor Fire Apparatus with chain drive. This is what the Miles City engine looked like - sort of. The engine in the photograph was built for the city of Coshocton, Ohio, as their No. 2 engine. Apparently, Coshocton could afford the extra-special adornment of gold leaf, filigree and chrome. The Miles City Number 1 didn't get the royal treatment. I'd like to see the Miles City engine look like this one!

I am not done with this little project just yet. I have the carbon copy response to this letter which was attached to the piece of letterhead pictured at the top with a small pin - early paper clip if you will. I have contacted the Hall of Flame Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, in hopes of obtaining information they may have about the Miles City Engine. I've been told that the Museum has the Painter's Log for the Seagrave Company. The Painter's Log and the Build Number will tell me just when the Miles City engine left the factory, which is something I'd like to be able to tell a patron who decides they have to have this old piece of paper and a little piece of early Montana History on the side.

An update to the story: I spoke with the Curator of the Hall of Flame Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, Peter Molloy this afternoon, and he was able to tell me that the Miles City Number 1 fire engine was painted on January 18th, 1917. He was also able to point me to another Museum in Michigan, that may have a photograph of the Miles City engine. Peter explained to me that every truck that left the Seagrave factory was photographed in a manner similar to the photo above. These were large glass plate negatives which Seagrave at some point in time parted with, as they had no reason to keep documentation for engines they built over Seventy years ago if not more. This was done to document not only the truck itself, but also the apparatus that was included as part of the sales package. I will also be able to determine (hopefully) what  color scheme was used.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Seagrave Build No. 16667

A work in progress. More later for those of you still hanging around.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Indian Motocycle Logo #3

I'm calling this one the Glass Indian. Having worked twice before on these weekly bulletins from the Indian factory in Springfield, Massachusetts, I'm not any more thrilled with the paper this time around than I was the first time. It chips easily, and it really is poor paper. BUT. I use what I can get when I can get it.

This is also another piece of paper that was gifted to me by my brother-in-law, Tom Benson. I think about his fabulous Indian Museum - in his Great Room - every time I work on something like this.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

L. A. Huffman, Mrs.White Elk & The Ring, Part II

This is as close as I'm going to get to a finished product until this Saturday evening, September 29th, in Miles City at the Custer County Art & Heritage Center's 37th Annual Exhibit and Auction. If you are interested in seeing the difference between the artist proof and this one, you can find the first one in my previous post.

Some information has been passed to me by Joan Hantz, who works and teaches at Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer, Montana. I wanted to know more about Mrs. White Elk before the Quick Finish so that as I'm working to finish it I have something to talk about. Joan kindly provided with this:

Census records for June 30, 1888
White Elk, 36 years old
Shaving Woman, wife, 31 years old.
Crooked was their son and he's listed as being 13 years old.
Magpie Woman, Mother in law, 71 years old.

Census records for 1896
White Elk, 44 years old and now registered as Jule White Elk.
Shaving Woman (Mrs. White Elk), 39 years old and registered as Anna.
The son Crooked did not appear in this census.

Records indicate that White Elk was still living in 1914. He was born in 1849. No records indicate a birth or death for Mrs. White Elk.

Jule White Elk fought at the Battle of the Little Big Horn (1876) at age 27. He was a member of the Elkhorn Scraper Society. He also fought at the Battle of the Rosebud, aka The Battle Where the Girl Saved her Brother. This battle occurred just days before the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

I owe a debt of gratitude to a number of people: Kevin Layton and Mark Browning at the Custer County Art & Heritage Center in Miles City. The story of how Mrs. White Elk and how this photograph came to be are little bits of history I can enjoy for a long time. I thought that the story needed to be told in my way, and both Kevin and Mark were very accommodating.

Gene and Bev Allen are folks I've known for many years. I consider them patrons. It was through them that I first learned of L. A. Huffman, and also sold me my copy of  the L. A. Huffman book. The source for the early signature was a blind stamp - a metal stamp which was used to indent the signature in the photographic paper or card stock on which the photograph was mounted. They also related to me some of the history of the man himself which I did not know. Gene and Bev also provided me with a scan of the lower portion of a Huffman carte de viste as well, which I've used as some of the text on my piece of art.

Michael Lee, a local photographer that I met some months ago, provided me with the copy of the photograph that I'm going to be affixing to the envelope after much trial and error. I wanted this to be on heavy photo stock, and reproducing the image that I had permission to use is not the easiest task. The image I had was a photograph of a photograph, so the image was a second generation image already. Thank you again Michael for all that you did.

I'm as ready as I'm going to be for the Saturday evening event.

A large Thank You to all of the folks I've mentioned, and those I haven't as well!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

L. A. Huffman, Mrs.White Elk & The Ring

This is the Artist Proof for the piece I will be doing for the Quick Finish at the 37th Annual Art Invitational and Auction on the 29th of September in Miles City, Montana. Three of us will be completing our pieces to be sold during the auction. Mine will be a 100% donation to the Art Center, and my way of telling the story of Mrs.White Elk, and although there are three images that tell the tale of this Indian Portrait, I am using the second portrait that L. A. Huffman created during one sitting in his studio.

I have to do at least a one-off to see what the finished envelope will look like, and to determine what part of the piece I can finish in an hour.

This piece is a bit rough around the edges from where I'm sitting, but I'm really never satisfied. I can tell you there will be some changes in the composition regarding type size and placement. The lower portion I have done in sepia ink comes from an early Carte de Visite that Huffman produced for sale, and several of the elements are "covered" in my effort to use a map that is right for the areas that Huffman photographed.

The Custer County Art & Heritage Center in Miles City, Montana, holds an extensive collection of the well known Western photographer, L. A. Huffman. I wish I could show you all three of the photographs of this beautiful woman, but I have permission to use only the one that you see above.

Perhaps between now and the end of the month, I can tell you a little bit more about this fabulous photographer.

Friday, September 7, 2012

U.S.S. Arikara, Michael Lee, 1969

We met, by accident, at the Last Chance (PO) Station here in Helena. He was in Da Nang Harbor in 1969, although I'm not sure just how close we ever came to each other. He was on this Tugboat, and I was at the bridge which crosses the river just to the left of the first character in his first name. Michael sent me the photo that I used on the envelope, and I have to credit a fellow shipmate of his by the name of Bob Chady for taking this (cropped) photograph. Our initial conversation was driven by the fact I was wearing a cap that my son gave me. One of only two outward signs that I'd been to SE Asia, and Vietnam specifically. He opened The Ball by asking.

He takes photographs. He spent several hours over a couple of days taking my photograph for an exhibit of Vietnam veterans which he is putting together. I have not seen it. I won't see it until November, pretty close to Veteran's Day.

He has skills with a camera and Photoshop that I do not have. I owe him a great deal, not only for the portraits, two of which I now have, but for the shared experiences that we can "re-remember" and recreate in the telling.

Thank you, Michael.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Shelby, Montana - Indian Home

I've had this piece of paper for quite awhile. I had been avoiding doing alcohol and tobacco related art, simply because I felt that neither were subjects that were popular with my patrons. I finally looked at it for more than the second time, and because of the nature of the letter, the age of the paper, (Shelby Junction predated Shelby), and the fact that establishment was created near the Great Northern boxcar which served as the station, I decided it was worth enhancing. The Shelby Junction Station was the connecting link for the Great Northern Railway and the Great Falls & Canada Railway.  Peter P. Shelby was a general manager for the Montana Central Railroad before becoming an employee of the Great Northern.

And - that's how my hometown got its name!

The text of the letter:

                                              Please hurry up the cigars ordered
                                 from you over a month ago.         If you cannot
                                 send me the entire order,   please
                                 forward 50 on the next train
                                 and oblige.
                                                                                                Dan Sullivan

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wood Duck - #22 in Series

The twenty-second Duck that I've done as an open subscription. I'm not doing as many as I have in the past because I've had fewer requests. I did not submit an entry in the Cachetmaker's Contest for the AMerican First Day Cover Society, but - they've always been a favorite of mine.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Coaled Feet

Coaled Feet

Envelope in which the bid was submitted
Copy of original coal bid document  

This piece is headed to the 37th Annual Invitational Art Exhibit and Auction at the Custer County Art & Heritage Center in Miles City, Montana. I've included a copy of the original so that the letter can be read, as well as the envelope which is also very interesting from several perspectives:

The letter is actually a bid submitted for coal to be used as fuel by Miles City for city resources. The envelope is a corner card for the Chicago, Milwaukee and Puget Sound Railway. What connection the railway had to the Roundup Coal Mining Company I have yet to discover, but I found it interesting that the offer is based upon a delivery price for fuel coal, by rail to any Miles City facility with a railroad siding.

The exhibit opens on August 18th, and the live auction will be held at the end of the exhibit on September 29th. There will also be a Quick Finish event at that time, and I'm playing!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Great Northern Railway Tin Sign

I discovered this piece of Great Northern correspondence while looking for an entirely different document. How I came to possess it is lost to me. I wish I knew. Not a lot to say, it's a railroad with a tie to my youth.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lee E. Nordahl - Memorial Day 2012

To honor them all - through him - Lest we forget.

You have seen this First Day Cover before. I posted it HERE in 2009. That Veteran's Day was an anniversary of sorts, but Veteran's Day to all of us none the less. Memorial Day is different. It isn't a day to go to the lake, or enjoy a picnic out of doors. Perhaps it never should be.

Several months ago, I received an email from a gentleman by the name of Nicholas Thrasher. He is the Editor and Art Director for the premier publication of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, called aptly Foundation.  The last link will allow you to preview a recent copy of the magazine, but it doesn't happen to be the most recent issue.

Mr. Thrasher had found my envelope doing a Google Search. He was extremely interested in getting in touch with Lee's family for a photograph and and also interested in using my art work within an upcoming article in the Foundation magazine entitled "The loss of Flint River 604". It is the story of the flight and subsequent downing of the RVAH-13 Vigilante aircraft with Lieutenant Commander Guy D. Johnson and Lieutenant JG Lee E. Nordahl aboard. Included in the article are aerial photos of the mission's intended flight path, including the home leg to the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, photographs of the aircraft itself, as well as photographs of LtC Johnson, and LtJG Nordahl.

Also included in the article (I just recently received complimentary copies of the magazine) is the narrative of how I came to complete my tribute to Lee.

The short story is that Lee's mother was still alive in 1995, and living in Wolf Point, Montana, with Lee's sister. They at the time made an almost 500 mile trip from Wolf Point to Choteau, Montana, for Memorial Day services at the Choteau cemetary. I not only had the envelopes cancelled in Choteau (Lee's hometown), but I was also able to give one of them to Lee's mother.

Until I got in touch with her in 1995, she had not opened Lee's seabag, which had been returned to her after both he and Johnson were declared MIA. She kindly allowed her daughter to photocopy his dogtags so that I could portray them as part of my art work for the POW-MIA stamp issue.

Not a Memorial Day passes without my remembering what Memorial Day really means to me, and what it means to those who hold memories of their fallen heroes. God Rest them all.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Borsalino - Good enough for Charlie Russell

In the previous post I covered a little bit of history regarding Borsalino Hats, but I neglected to tell you a little about Giuseppe Borsalino, the founder of this world famous hat company.

One of the first, if not the first industrialist of any stripe in Europe to have a pension plan AND health insurance for his employees, his hats went worldwide fairly rapidly. He went from learning how to make a hat in France in the early 1850's, to employing over a thousand people in his single factory at the turn of the century when he died. The company continued to grow (and stayed in the family), and by 1913 employed over twenty-five hundred workers turning out literally millions of hats.Why would that be important?

If you want to produce a quality product and have many someones do your "work" for you, the best way to insure success is to pay them like you want them to stay. Cheap labor is easy to find, but a worker who is not paid fairly will not produce a quality product. It's the same in any game.

Greg and Madge Allen own the only REAL Men's clothing store in Helena, Montana. They sell women's clothing as well (the Sheila's part), but I despise shopping for clothes at the Big Name stores. This business is Brick and Mortar. It's on Last Chance Gulch. It feels like the Larson's Clothing store in Shelby, Montana, where I purchased my clothes as a young man.

I won't reveal the Borsalino I'm now wearing, except to give you a couple of hints: Where did Giuseppe learn to make hats? What does a properly attired French artist wear?

I won't make you guess.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Borsalino, By George!

An over-sized stiff cardboard mailer is the foundation for this piece of NEW mail art. It came from the Borsalino office in New York, but I'm thinking perhaps that Borsalino sent out their catalogs in this mailer. I did not question the proprietor of the only real Men's (and women's) clothing store here in Helena, but I never look a gift horse in the mouth. Inside the mailer was a small advertising card which is a reprint of a poster or perhaps a window card for - Borsalino Hats.

I had to remove the three stamps that were on this mailer and replaced them with three Birds of Prey stamps. The mailer required $1.90 in postage, but I simply overfranked it so that a meter strip wouldn't be used. I like stamps. I actually wish that the Bogart stamps would have pictured him in his fedora - which was a Borsalino, but alas - The stamp salvage from the sheet does show him in his hat, but I didn't know if anyone would make the connection with the mailer.

The Borsalino lettering is embossed - quite dramatically, but it was white just as is the rest of the mailer. Rich looking by itself, but I dug out my Gold leaf supplies and spent an hour remembering how to use PVA for the gold adhesive before I touched it. I actually got the entire lettering out of three leaves of the gold. I know it doesn't look too dramatic the way it reproduces, but this was one I had to share.

The chair, hat, cane and gloves are from another old Borsalino advertising poster.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Drummer Dan Dubé

My younger brother Dan was taken from Me and Mine on the third of May, 2012. He was 61 on the the 30th of April. He received the above on his birthday.

Eternal Rest Grant unto him, O Lord,
and let Perpetual Light Shine upon him.
May he and all the Faithful Departed,
Rest in Peace.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Indian Motocycle Rides Home on a BMW

I completed two pieces of Indian paper before going to the Western Heritage Artists show in Great Falls, Montana, the 14th through the 18th of March past.  Bob (and his wife) purchased a piece of Winchester paper in 2010, and they didn't find anything in my room last year that piqued their interest.

My theory is that if you offer a little bit of history with some art in the mix, people sooner or later will fall for a nice dose of both.

Bob liked Contact Point #2, which I tied with a leather thong to a BMW badge from a 1923 BMW motorcycle for his Thank You. Indian paper is not only hard to come by, but hard to hold onto. I love it when that happens. And thanks to my Brother-In-Law Tom Benson for gifting me the wonderful paper.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Parrot Talked - and Walked! PFF #54

Back in November of last year, I posted an image of a Parrot Confectionery receipt - with an image of a  Poll-Parrot Shoes bookmark with which I had "enhanced" the old paper. This Parrot wasn't eating peanuts in my room at the Western Heritage Artists show the middle of March. It flew the coop like the little guy in the return address.

This is the Thank you I sent to a couple of folks who now have Breakfast Brownie Doughgirl and The Walkin' Talkin'  Good Tastin' Chocolate Bookmark.

I'm also in the game today for Postcard Friendly Friday, my 54th. If you like to look at mail art, hop on over to Beth Niquette's The Best Hearts Are Crunchy where she plays hostess for the day.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

C. M. Russell Shoots Pool

In September of last year I posted an image of a single-striped number 9 Hyatt pool ball on a piece of letterhead from a Chicago business by the name of Hubbell & Grote. The letter itself was interesting enough that I had a difficult time sizing the ball so that sense could be made of the letter. I'm not just in this game to put the art on a piece of paper without allowing the paper to tell its story as well.

The story was not a very long one, but the folks to whom this Thank You is addressed found it to be interesting enough that they decided to take it home. Why is Charlie parked next to the pool ball? Well - Because they are also C. M. Russell fans, and this one of Charlie with a pool cue in his hands was just the right touch.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Uneeda Biscuits and Last Chance Whiskey

It's taken me well over a week to get all of my Thank You's done for those whom I consider patrons. These folks like what I hung on the wall at the Western Heritage Artists show in Great Falls, Montana, last month during Western Art Week. Not only did they like it, they decided to hang it on their walls instead of mine. You can follow the story of the Biscuit Boy in this previous post, and this one as well.

As I've been doing the Thank You's in the order in which they were purchased, I'm also doing the same with the images I post of the Thank You's themselves. This one was particularly sweet. It hung in the Juried Lobby show with a little RED dot on it the entire time. I've also posted about this piece as well.

As I hear from the folks who received their Thank You's, I'll post more of them. It'll keep me busy for a bit.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did doing them!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Uneeda Biscuit Boy

In October of 2009 I was struggling to find paper. Although there was a lot of NBC paper available on eBay,  I was more interested in finding paper from their factory here in Helena. This particular piece was glued into a ledger which I examined over a year ago. It was the first piece of NBC letterhead I'd ever seen.

If you compare this piece with the Biscuit Boy I completed in 2009, you'll see that I wasn't as concerned back then about letting the printed portion of the document remain visible through my image. I'm going in a different direction these days. Although it's time-consuming to eliminate the printing where it interferes with my art, the results are well worth the effort. I don't know how long this will last. I'm using an ink eraser that was available years ago, and has now become a collectible. Any of you paper artists with suggestions, my ears are turned on.

I failed to identify the artist of this image in 2009. I started looking for more of the history, and I discovered an archived listing at Robert Edward Auctions that's worth the read. Although his name is misspelled in the lot description, his name was Frederick Stanley.

This is actually the first piece that I sold at the Western Heritage Artists show in Great Falls during Western Art Week. I didn't need the Biscuit Boy's rain slicker until we were packing up on Monday last to drive home. Good weather, despite the fact that we usually get snow around St. Patrick's Day. My paddle was in the water the entire time. I don't have a timetable for posting the rest of the art and the Thank You's that are going to be done. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

C. M. Russell Brownie

I was introduced to C. M. Russell by my parents in 1953. He was the reason I'm doing what I'm doing.

I've done my best to depict a small figure that Russell carved and constructed out of birch bark, twigs, moss and what appears to be cedar driftwood. It's in the C. M. Russell Museum in the lower gallery.

This piece is to be finished next Thursday evening at the Quick Finish event to support the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. It's exciting to be part of Western Art Week in Great Falls, and one of my only opportunities to meet a lot of people and expose them to something they've perhaps never seen before.

The attraction to Great Falls is primarily focused on - Western Art.

There are over a half dozen shows going on at different venues around the city during Western Art Week.  Over the course of thirty years, the Western Heritage Artists show at the Holiday Inn has been a constant. Some of the shows are focused on dead artists, but I've never met one of them at the Western Heritage Artists show.

Charlie Russell is an obvious main attraction. The Quick Finish event gives artists who participate (about twenty) exactly forty five minutes to complete a piece of artwork which is then put up for auction. A very good cause, and although this is not my first event of this kind, forty five minutes to do what needs to be done (in this case) makes it enjoyable as well.

This is what I hope it will look like, only better, since I have now settled on what I'm going to use for the lettering colors, and I changed the composition slightly to better fit the overall piece.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Indian Motocycle - Indian 4

The last time I posted it was 2011. It isn't as if I've been busy, because I have. I owe every one of you faithful followers a visit - or at least a note. At one time I tried to greet each new person who decided to follow me. I've been woefully lacking when it comes to doing that.

This is a piece of Indian factory letterhead, and one that I had not seen but infrequently on eBay. I've been told (by my understanding spouse of over forty years)  I have enough paper in my studio to last me a lifetime. I hope I get the opportunity to make that comment come true for both of us.

The Western Heritage Artists show open during Western Art Week in Great Falls, Montana, on March 14th and runs through the afternoon of March 18th. I'm also including a link to my page on the WHA site.  There are several events I would like to mention here, including a Quick Finish on Thursday evening, followed by an auction of the pieces completed by about twenty of us to benefit the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.

On Saturday evening, there will be an auction of juried art pieces in support of the Western Heritage Artists Association and Special Olympics of Montana.

On Sunday afternoon, there will be a Paint-Around, followed by an auction of the pieces created during the event. Groups of five to eight artists have ten minutes to work on their own piece before moving to the next artist's station in the group, where the artist has five minutes to "help". When you get back to your own you have ten minutes to finish what you started.

I've thrown my hat in the ring for all of the events.

Later this week I will post the before images of what I'm creating during the work-related events, and hopefully I'll be able to provide after images as well.

And a note to those artists whom I am following. I simply have not had the time to comment when indeed, I have often wanted to take the time to do just that. I'll make up for that as soon as I can.