AAA Editor Notes
C.M. Russell Museum, 400 13th St. N., pays homage to the cowboy artist Charles Marion Russell. The complex contains a museum, Russell's home and log studio, and a sculpture garden. Russell's observation of life, personal philosophy and love of Montana greatly influenced his paintings and sculpture. Though Russell was an established artist at the time of his death in 1926, creating art was not always his ambition. Rather, he was attracted to the exciting life of a cowboy.
Just days after celebrating his 16th birthday, Russell moved from St. Louis to Judith Basin in Montana where he tended sheep for a brief stint. He spent 2 years learning from a hunter and trapper. His experience led him to become a night wrangler and he seized the time and opportunity to closely observe and sketch all the daily and nightly activities of the camp. After 11 years of being a ranch hand, he retired to pursue his life as a full-time artist.
Russell's great admiration of Native Americans, especially those of the Northern Plains, is quite evident in his detailed works on the subject. The cowboy's life is romanticized in many works. In addition, images of bison, wolves, elk and other wild animals also feature in his paintings and reflect his life in Montana.
A visit to the museum reveals several galleries of Russell's watercolors, sculptures, oil paintings and illustrated cards and letters. Also featured are historical photographs of the Old West; a collection of Browning firearms; and the permanent exhibition, The Bison: American Icon, Heart of Plains Indian Culture. Changing temporary exhibitions showcase contemporary Western artists and historic artists, including O.C. Seltzer, Winold Reiss, Henry Famy and J.H. Sharp.
Guided tours are available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.