Rus­sell Skull So­ci­ety of Artists Suites

The Rus­sell Skull So­ci­ety of Artists Suites is one of the high­lights of West­ern Art Week, giv­ing col­lec­tors the op­por­tu­nity view ad­di­tional works and have one-on-one in­ter­ac­tions with artists.

Western Art Collector - - WESTERN ART TRAIL CALENDAR -

Top-qual­ity art­work from some of the top West­ern artists work­ing to­day

Dur­ing Rus­sell Week, the mod­est town of Great Falls, Mon­tana, trans­forms into the West­ern art cap­i­tal of the world—it’s a cel­e­bra­tion of Char­lie Rus­sell and West­ern art as a whole, with events oc­cur­ring all across the city. While part of that lineup, of course, in­cludes the C.M. Rus­sell Mu­seum’s an­nual Rus­sell Ex­hi­bi­tion and Sale, an­other an­tic­i­pated event is the Rus­sell Skull So­ci­ety of Artists Suites held at the Mans­field Con­ven­tion Cen­ter from March 21 to 23. “[The Rus­sell Skull So­ci­ety is] very much in­grained in all as­pects of the Rus­sell Sale and event. We orig­i­nated the Rus­sell Skull So­ci­ety of Artists to really pro­mote and cel­e­brate the top tier of artists that have a long­stand­ing his­tory of par­tic­i­pa­tion in the auc­tion events to ben­e­fit the Rus­sell Mu­seum,” says Duane Braaten, di­rec­tor of art and phi­lan­thropy at the mu­seum. This sec­ondary event bol­sters the en­ergy and ex­cite­ment of the Rus­sell’s main ex­hi­bi­tion and sale; the Rus­sell Skull So­ci­ety of Artists Suites lit­er­ally sur­rounds the room in which the auc­tion is held. “Just vis­ually, it re­minds us why we’re gath­ered to­gether. We’re sur­round­ing our­selves with art. The cre­ative spir­its from Char­lie Rus­sell to the artists of to­day,” Braaten says.

Cur­rently, the Rus­sell Skull So­ci­ety com­prises 23 artists, ush­ered into the es­teemed group for their artis­tic mer­its and his­tory of sup­port to the C.M. Rus­sell Mu­seum, says Braaten. Mem­bers in­clude Joe Kro­nen­berg, R. Tom Gilleon, Nancy Dun­lap Caw­drey and Chad Pop­ple­ton, among oth­ers, as well as four new­com­ers: John Phelps, Don Oelze, Jen­nifer John­son and Troy Collins. “The ex­hi­bi­tion suites are a really unique op­por­tu­nity to come and meet th­ese artists all in one place...you can visit with th­ese artists and have a great story to tell about the art­work you just col­lected over the week­end,” says Braaten. He adds that the Skull So­ci­ety show and sale of­fers col­lec­tors even more art pur­chas­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties through­out the

three-day event.

In Luke Frazier’s For­est Sen­tinel, in­cluded in the Skull So­ci­ety show, a for­mi­da­ble elk stands with com­mand­ing pres­ence in the cen­ter of the com­po­si­tion. “Elk are some of the most vo­cal of the deer fam­ily—the bull elk bu­gle is a rugged and beau­ti­ful sound to hear in the wild,” Frazier com­ments. “A herd bull gets his moniker by be­ing a big­ger badass than the other bulls. He’ll run off all suit­ors, and on oc­ca­sion, fight to the death for the breed­ing rights of the fe­males.”

“The event has be­come a cor­ner­stone of my ca­reer, and it was such an honor to be in­vited, and among the in­au­gu­ral mem­bers of the [Rus­sell Skull So­ci­ety],” says Randy Van Beek, who has par­tic­i­pated in The Rus­sell for more than 25 years.

“It’s a huge honor,” Collins says of his re­cent in­clu­sion in the Rus­sell Skull So­ci­ety. “[I’m one of the] land­scape con­tem­po­rary im­pres­sion­ist guys. Most of the other guys are pretty tra­di­tional West­ern artists, ex­tremely good artists, so it’s ex­cit­ing be­cause it’s dif­fer­ent...i’m really thank­ful that they’re al­low­ing me to be a part of it.” One of Collins’ pieces, Dream­ing in Color, fea­tures the artist’s clas­sic aspen land­scapes. “It’s not about the col­ors but the re­la­tion­ships of the col­ors,” he says. “Col­ors are only beau­ti­ful when they’re neigh­bor­ing some­thing that com­ple­ments them. It all has to do with the har­monies you’re us­ing.”

The Rus­sell Skull So­ci­ety of Artists Suites will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. all three days and is free to the pub­lic.

Artist Andy Thomas talks with a col­lec­tor in his booth at last year’s event.

Chad Pop­ple­ton, Haz­ards of the Trail, oil on panel, 30 x 48"

Luke Frazier, For­est Sen­tinel, oil, 36 x 48"

R. Tom Gilleon, Win­ter Lodge, oil, 36 x 36"

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