UM Exhibit Features Majestic Art of the American West

December 07, 2015

MISSOULA – From Glacier National Park to the Pueblos of New Mexico, “Glorious Vista: Art of the American West from the Permanent Collection” explores the geography and people of the Rocky Mountain West during the 19th and 20th centuries. Sixty landscapes and historical depictions of Native peoples will be on view beginning Thursday, Jan. 7, at the University of Montana’s Montana Museum of Art & Culture.

An opening reception will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 7 in the Performing Arts and Radio/TV Lobby on the UM campus. The exhibition and opening reception are free and open to the public.  

The six-week show includes oil paintings, photography, watercolors, lithographs and cast bronzes, many of which have never been publicly viewed.

“The landscapes of the American West have excited artists for centuries,” exhibition curator Cheryl Leibold said. “It was rewarding to select the works for this exhibition and in the process examine how artists depict the history of the West with widely different perspectives.”

In the mid-19th century, artists like George Catlin and John Mix Stanley journeyed to the West to record its landscape and Native cultures. Leibold said the resulting works aroused the interest of East Coast audiences, inspiring subsequent romantic painters whose large-scale canvases “embellished and partially invented the western landscape.”

Canvases by Edgar Paxson, Joseph Henry Sharp, Ralph Earl DeCamp and others in the Meloy Gallery will combine to show the backdrop that enticed many west. Prints, paintings and sculptures of cowboys and Native Americans by Charles M. Russell, Ace Powell, Nancy McLaughlin and George Catlin round out this show in the Paxson Gallery to give a face to individuals who made history in the broader American West. 

MMAC Interim Curator of Art Jeremy Canwell will launch a tour of the exhibition at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, in the PARTV Center lobby. The tour is open to the public.

The museum also will present a lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 16, titled “Nature and Culture in the Northern Rocky Mountains” by Michael Duchemin, executive director of the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls. It will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the PARTV Center’s Montana Theatre.

 “From documenting Native American tribal identities to rallying support behind conservation and the National Parks movement, see how art in the West evolved to create a regional aesthetic that remains influential today,” Leibold said.

“We are very excited to present images of the landscapes and people of the West that are some of the jewels within the Permanent Collection,” MMAC Director Barbara Koostra said. “We’re grateful to Cheryl Leibold, retired archivist of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, for her curatorial efforts.”

MMAC academic-year gallery hours are noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The museum is open to the public with a suggested $5 donation. Public docent tours will take place at 5:30pm on Thursday, January 21 and Thursday, February 18.  For more information call 406-243-2019 or visit


Note to media: Digital images from the exhibition are available by calling 406-243-2019 or emailing

Contact: Barbara Koostra, director, Montana Museum of Art & Culture, 406-243-2019,