Frank Hagel, “Sunrise on the Upper Missouri,” oil, 30 x 40 inches

Two great galleries recently celebrated the First Thursday Artwork in Whitefish, Montana, and it featured the gorgeous works of Frank Hagel, Jack Lyons, Laurie A. Stevens, and Ben Pease. What’s the buzz?

On Thursday, July 6, Frame of Reference Fine Art and Dick Idol Signature Gallery opened two fantastic shows as part of Whitefish, Montana’s First Thursday Artwork. “Western Perspectives,” which opened at Frame of Reference Fine Art, features the recent works of three major artists: Frank Hagel, Jack Lyons, and Laurie A. Stevens. All three artists were on hand and discussed their works during the opening.

Whether it be an extended experience, a split-second moment, or a historical account met through research, Hagel is always ready for his next painting’s subject to reveal itself. When the spark of inspiration hits, Hagel’s methodical process begins, a course that is finely tuned and has consistently yielded breathtaking results. “My paintings are almost always inspired by Montana,” Hagel suggested, “whether landscapes, animals, or humans, they are all familiar to me and interesting in an historical or pictorial sense.” Hagel is one of the preeminent painters of the American West, and his connection with Montana and Western culture runs extremely deep and, to be sure, well beyond his art.

Laurie A. Stevens, “Morning Dove,” oil and gold leaf, 36 x 24 inches

Also on view are the works of Laurie A. Stevens, also one of the most collected painters of the American West. Her work “reflects the small daily wonders of the land she calls home,” the gallery said, “the first crocus of spring, the resilient beauty of the plains, or that special sense of hope and possibility that is only found in the West. Stevens is also interested in regional history, particularly the interactions of Native Americans and white settlers during the Reservation Period. Many of her paintings are an exploration of this dynamic and a meditation on the taming of the West.”

Balancing the two-dimensional works of Stevens and Hagel is the exquisite cabinetry of Jack Lyons. “He is known throughout the region for his ability to combine an artist’s creative vision with stunning craftsmanship, and then create something unique and enduring: handcrafted beauty you can reach out and touch,” the gallery continued. “Lyons’ work over the years has been diverse — building custom furnishings and imaginative themed spaces for model homes, designing and building his own homes and of course all the furniture; building several artists’ studios, custom artistic furniture, metal art pieces and expressive wood carvings.”

Jack Lyons, Walnut Cabinet, 35 x 26 x 19 inches

Certainly not outdone by Frame of Reference Fine Art is Dick Idol Signature Gallery, which mounted “Breaking Sacred Ground: An Indigenous Introspective” featuring the works of Ben Pease. Via their press materials, Pease says, “Throughout my life, I’ve tried to soak up as much cultural, societal, and traditional aspects of what it means to be an aboriginal from North America in the whirlwind of today. I find my definition of being Native to this land as an interpersonal physical and spiritual relationship which is connected to all surrounding entities, beings, organisms, and geological features.

“I come from the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Nations in South Eastern Montana.

Ben Pease, “Nacerima,” 2017, acrylic, digital paint print, ink, and stamps on canvas, 24 x 18 inches

“I have been practicing as a professional Native Artist for almost 4 years around the country. My work and process are currently evolving, for the more I learn, the less I know. I’ve recently crossed paths with the self-appointed task of narrating the Aboriginal struggles and aesthetics through my personal interpretation. Whether my art focuses upon statements drawn from the aspect of an activist or based on cultural recording, I feel the need to educate and speak volumes. I will continue my transition from a so-called ‘Rez-Kid’ to a culturally rich contemporary storyteller.”

To learn more, visit Frame of Reference Fine Art or Dick Idol Signature Gallery.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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