Charles Marion Russell, Image via

Most of us would agree that PBS offers some fantastic programming for our viewing pleasure. They’ve certainly done it again with an upcoming documentary that delves into the life, times, and career of one of America’s greatest Western painters.

On September 9, Great Falls, Montana, will host the world premiere of the Montana PBS documentary titled “C.M. Russell and the American West.” In conjunction with the release, and to welcome a film that underscores Russell’s place among great American artists, the museum has also planned three days of community-sponsored events titled “Raise the Roof for the Russells.”

“A young Charlie Russell fell in love with Montana and called Great Falls home. His legacy is an immeasurable inspiration to and influence on the people here,” said Tom Petrie, chairman of the C.M. Russell Museum board. “Our community support and dedication to launching a film that brings Charlie’s fascinating story and timeless message to the world is both exciting and humbling. The spirit of the American West remains impressive in Great Falls.”

Great Falls Mayor Bob Kelley added, “The community of Great Falls is excited to share the story of her favorite son with all his followers throughout the state and the nation. Charlie’s story is just one of the many things we are proud of. I hope visitors and residents take advantage of such a wonderful celebration.”

The schedule for “Raise the Roof for the Russells” includes the following events. All will be held at the C.M. Russell Museum unless otherwise noted.

  • The public opening ceremony for the Frederic G. and Ginger K. Renner Research Center on September 8 at 11 a.m.
  • A member opening of the Josephine Trigg Collection Gallery Exhibition and the Strand Collection Exhibition on September 8 at 4 p.m.
  • An auction to benefit the Russell House and Studio presented by Petrie Partners on September 8 at 6 p.m.
  • A Russell Riders Outdoor Sculpture Garden ceremony on September 9 at 2 p.m.
  • A chuck wagon barbecue on September 9 at 3 p.m. presented by Benefis Health System
  • VIP meet-and-greet event at the Mansfield Convention Center on September 9 at 5 p.m.
  • The world premiere screening of “C.M. Russell and the American West” at the Mansfield Theater on September 9 from 6-9 p.m. presented by Benefis Health System

A short description of the film:

“C.M. Russell and the American West” examines the life and art of Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926). The film explores his arrival in Montana as a youth, his apprenticeship and work as a cowboy on the open range, and his self-taught, almost explosive growth into an iconic American artist who affected generations. Russell’s body of work was panoramic and modern in his sensitivity to subject matter, from a reverence for the land and wildlife to his positive depictions of American Indians. The film was created by Producer/Director Gus Chambers and Producer/Writer Paul Zalis. William Marcus and Aaron Pruitt of MontanaPBS are Executive Producers.”

To learn more, visit Montana PBS or the CM Russell Museum.

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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