Wednesday, September 26, 2018
"Pieta" by Bob Scriver, still in plastilene here
This sculpture is formally called a "Pieta," belonging to a tradition of portrayals of Jesus newly taken down from the cross and Mary, his mother, grieving over his body. It is one of a set of sculptures created around the death of Bob Scriver's daughter as a way of handling his grief. The work is at the Montana Historical Society with the rest of his estate.
The first sculpture in this cluster was a bust of Margaret in her last time before death. She was told the name of it was "Prairie Daughter," but the real name was "To See Eternity". The first version was shocking to others, because it was easier to see the emaciation and suffering in clay, so that he had to add revision.
The second was a corpus for a crucifix in the moments before Jesus' death, when he said, "Eloi Eloi lama Sabachthani" ("Father, Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?") It was a commission from a customer who was wrestling with a terminal disease. She gave permission to share the crucifix with others.
The third and fourth were portrait busts of Maurice Chaillot, who posed as Jesus. One was as Jesus on the cross and the other was Maurice himself, who was a professor and artist in Canada.
There is also a portrait bust of Helene Devicq herself, but it is not part of this little set. Helene and Maurice were the siblings of Jeannette Caoette, Bob's second wife. She is wearing a wide-brimmed summer hat.
Helene was very beautiful in a petite Elizabeth Taylor way, and quite conscious of it. She married Stan DeVicq, a well-known hockey star, and many years later a wealthy man whose name I don't know. She was used to being a star and once mused sadly, "I just don't have any clout anymore!" Bob Scriver loved her always and tried to paint her portrait, without success. The sculpture went better.
First came Bob's desire to be closer to his daughter, who was born to his first wife, Alice, and who after divorce had custody of the girl. Even over distance she was closely bonded to her father. Next was the surprise request for the crucifix. Then the busts of Maurice in preparation for the crucifix and then the developing idea of a Pieta. Bob had not seen Helene since the divorce from her sister. After his divorce from me, he brought her back to Browning a few times and stayed close to her emotionally. There is video he shot of her posing by his prized black Cadillac.
There was no possibility that a woman like Helene would ever agree to a life in a little rez town with a husband who lived for work, far away from cultural events and the wearing of gowns. When "Bronze Inside and Out" was written, several covers were proposed by the University of Calgary Press artist. One showed Bob at work in his conventional mess of a workshop and Helene objected vehemently to the photo on grounds that it was demeaning.
Later, when the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton was marking a show of Scriver bronzes loaned by the Montana Historical Society, they organized a memorial dinner. I was invited to attend but couldn't. Anyway, I'd been divorced for a long time. But I suggested that they invite Helene, who lived there in Edmonton and was key to his career. They knew she was, well, "old" but I don't think they expected a movie star in fur on the arm of a young man. The entrance had been decorated with larger-than life photo of Scriver and when Helene confronted it, she could not help bursting into tears.
For a woman meticulous in her self-maintenance, it is ironic that her death came from a neglected wound on her foot which became infected, then progressed to gangrene. She had worn high heels all her life until the backs of her ankles would not permit her feet to be flat. The idea of life-saving amputation was simply inconceivable.
An incident I sometimes pondered was when Scriver still had a tourist shop in a log cabin he built in St. Marys, the rez tourist town just south of the Canadian border. Helene and Jeannette, who had been assigned to clerk, found the traffic slow, so they had laid out fabric and patterns on the countertop and with their clever deft hands they were beginning a sewing project. In came Scriver, as horrified as though they had driven away the customers, and expressed his displeasure. One can take this several ways. The girls were allied in defying him behind his back (they hadn't expected him), they rather enjoyed being so important and making him react so violently, or it was a little drama in the war between the sexes. The two of them together did not resist the wrath.
Jeannette had no children but Helene did, so in Jeannette's last days it was Helene's son who took hold of the situation and stood by Jeannette through her last nursing home days. Ever since Morinville, the little French-Canadian Catholic church town half-an-hour north of Edmonton, this family had been tightly united around the father's barbershop/pool hall. When Maurice was born late -- what is sometimes called a "menopause baby"-- his sisters were auxiliary mothers, and all energy went into educating this fine boy. He did succeed in being an outstanding international person in the arts, but he never turned away from his fiery sisters even when they were nonsensical.
Scriver was close to this family for a while during WWII when he was stationed with the American Army Band in Edmonton. They took him in hand as much as he consorted with them. They had a lot of big ideas and told a lot of French-Canadian jokes. His mother would have been horrified, which pleased him. (She had grown up very English in a small Quebec town, and saw the French as a servant class, like "Indians." Indeed, Indians in her times occasionally pretended to be French.)
It takes a village to make a famous sculptor and Helene DeVicq was part of that, in ways she didn't even know existed. But walking into a major public event as though on a red carpet runner was one of the more memorable ways. I hope there were photos.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Bob Scriver (1914-1999)
"An Honest Try" 1968 Edition number 10 Bronze
This piece measures 32" x 27.5" x 19.5", with the base, it measures 2" x 14" x 20"
Awarded the 1970 gold medal winner in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Acquired from a private collection in Montana.
"An Honest Try" Edition number 11 Sold at Dallas Fine Art Auction January 2011 for $17,930
Sunday, December 18, 2016
This link should take you to a Pinterest collection of 14 photos of Scriver bronzes that were posted by Sue Resch. I don't know anything about her, but they are good photos.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
These are the results of the March in Montana auction website.
http://buy.marchinmontana.com/March-In-Montana-2016_as40962_p7?ps=50 The link is to the screen that shows what was recently offered in the private gallery auction and what the art sold for. This is their self-description: “With over 150 years of collective knowledge and a history of record-breaking sales experience of fine art and collectibles, Manitou Galleries of Cheyenne and Santa Fe and The Coeur d’Alene Art Auction of Idaho produce “March In Montana Fine Art & Collectibles Auction”. This annual event is held in conjunction with the other events in Great Falls surrounding and honoring Charles M. Russell’s birthday. “
My memory traces http://www.manitougalleries.com/exhibitions back to Kalispell, Montana, and Van Kirke Nelson’s Glacier Gallery. Beginning in the Sixties there was a little circle of dealers in the area. Before that was Trailside Galleries, then in Idaho which was the home base for Dick Flood who vacuumed the landscape for any Charlie Russell remnants or anything that looked a lot like a Charlie Russell. This meant both paintings and sculpture. It did not mean women or Indians.
Lucky for dealers, there was a LOT of material that had been produced in the 20th century about the 19th century. Basically, these “wheeler/dealers” filled warehouses and did a little dealing out of the trunk of cars, but Nelson always wanted an auction for sales and finally found a partner in Norma Ashby, energizer of the Ad Club in Great Falls. Anchoring the concept in Charlie Russell, homeboy, they scheduled the event around his birthday.
Eventually, partly by moving to the SW where prosperous customers abounded, the galleries caught fire and thrived, but much of their clientele and “story” remained anchored in Montana. Cowboy Artists of America were a source of oxygen based in the SW and also some major museums like the Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
This little circle from Kalispell wormed into Montana culture through the Montana Historical Society in Helena and the CM Russell Museum in Great Falls, until when Bob Scriver died in 1999, the two institutions were locked in rivalry over which got his estate. With the help of Ross Cannon, who fastened on Bob’s fourth wife (I was the third.) the bronzes finally went to the Montana Historical Society.
Bob’s bronzes can be grouped. The very earliest tourist items, little animals made of hydrocal and shaped for use as lamps or ashtrays, show up on eBay. The Blackfeet narrative pieces are in the custody of the Fort Benton cluster of historical re-creations and are well served in a fine gallery display. An internal sub-group is Bob’s finest work, meant to be a monumental series for the Blackfeet in the oil years. The horse-and-rider pairs that were begun around 1960 as a set of five, were the first to be cast in bronze. The Linderman rodeo series developed out of a portrait of Bill Linderman for what was then the Cowboy Hall of Fame. The big set of events was a major sale to the Calgary Stampede complex. His personal work, portraits and a small set of religious themes related to the death of his daughter, have never circulated to auctions. There are always animals, but he never went on safari to Africa. There are thousands of sculptures of various kinds and importance out there in the hands of customers.
Bob’s works in general rarely go through auction, which are dealers’ events rather than coming directly from the artists. Bob did not much use dealers and despised some of them. This particular auction was selling estates of major collectors, and therefore made some major pieces available from Bob’s Rodeo Series. Those pieces tended to reach their estimated value. In general, this specific auction was under-achieving with most pieces selling for half or even a third of their expected prices. Whether that constitutes a “burst bubble” is anyone’s guess.
Over at the primary auction, the one specifically organized for the Russell Museum, a Thomas Moran painting, “Castle Rock, Green River, Wyoming” sold for $3.6 million dollars. Last year the highest price at that auction was $1.5 million for CM Russell’s “For Supremacy.” I suspect the jump is related to a shift in culture from the resource exploitation version of the West (cowboys and Indians) to the near-mysticism of recent environmentalism which appeals to the new monied classes.
Following is from the March in Montana website. I’ve bolded the titles, followed them with the number of the casting and the specified limit number of castings. Photos of the pieces are in the online catalog. The second small number is the premium for the auction.
Bob Scriver (1914-1999)(CA). Winter King 81/110 Bob Scriver 1956
Est: 2,000 to 3,000
Sold for 1,700 +357
Bob Scriver (1914-1999)(CA). No Meat 12/30 1973
800 - 1,200
Sold for 600 + 126
Bob Scriver (1914-1999)(CA). Not For Glory. 21" x 34" x 26" bronze from the Rodeo Series. Inscribed: -2- © BOB SCRIVER 1971. Bighorn Foundry. Provenance: Ex- Archie Miller collection, Collection of Dr. Delwin & Karen Bokelman, PA & pictured in their book Precious Dreams, page 58.
Est: 15,000 - 20,000
Sold for 10,000 + 2100
Bob Scriver (1914-1999)(CA). Headin' For A Wreck. 18" x 28" x 43" bronze from the Rodeo Series. Inscribed: © BOB SCRIVER 1968 -6-
Powell Bronze Foundry. Provenance: Ex- Archie Miller collection, Collection of Dr. Delwin & Karen Bokelman, PA., & pictured in their book Precious Dreams, page 63.
Est. 6,000 - 8,000
Sold for 8,000 + 1680
Bob Scriver (1914-1999). Too Late for the Hawken. 23" x 30" x 24" bronze. Inscribed: "Too Late For The Hawken" 34/50, Arrowhead Bronze Foundry Mark.
Est 6,000 - 8,000
7,000 + 1470 8470
Bob Scriver (1914-1999)(CA). Herd Bull. 19" x 28" x 12" bronze. Inscribed: 5/110 © BOB SCRIVER 1959. Provenance: Ex- Archie Miller collection, Collection of Dr. Delwin & Karen Bokelman, PA.
Est. 7,000 - 9,000
Sold for 8,500+1785
Bob Scriver (1914-1999). Moving On. 14" x 8" x 35" bronze. Inscribed: "Moving On" © Bob Scriver 1995, 3/50.
Est 6,000 - 8,000
5,000 + 1,050
Bob Scriver (1914-1999). A Hard Way to Get Off. 15 ¾" x 10" x 19" bronze. Inscribed: "A Hard Way to Get Off" 22/150 © Bob Scriver, 1981.
Est. 3,000 - 5,000
Sold for 4500 + 945
Bob Scriver (1914-1999). Tail Stander. 24" x 15" x 10" bronze. Inscribed: "Tail Stander" © Bob Scriver, 1981, 22/150.
Es. 3,000 -5,000
3,500 + 735
Bob Scriver (1914-1999)(CA). Piegan Brave. 11" x 11" x 5" bronze. Inscribed: "Piegan Brave" © Bob Scriver 1974, 2/35, JHM Classic Bronze.`
Est. 2,000 - 2,500
1,700 + 357
Bob Scriver (1914-1999). When Hunters Meet. 15" x 24" x 13" bronze on swivel base. Inscribed: When Hunters Meet, 38/100, Bob Scriver, 1993.
Est. 4,000 - 6,000
4,000 + 840
Bob Scriver (1914-1999). The Golden Dragon. 9" x 7 ½" x 11 ½" bronze. Inscribed: 29/30 © Bob Scriver, 1973 "The Golden Dragon".
Est. 2,000 - 3,000
Bob Scriver (1914-1999)(CA). The Warrior. 13" x 8" x 15" bronze. Inscribed: "The Warrior" © Bob Scriver, 1995, 33/50.
1,500 - 2,500
900 + 189
Bob Scriver (1914-1999). Calf in the Way. 21 ½" x 16 ½" x 16" bronze. Inscribed: "Calf in the Way", © Bob Scriver, 22/150, 1981.
Est. 2,500 - 3,500
I include Gordon Monroe on this list because he worked closely with Bob Scriver. He is an enrolled Blackfeet Indian and googling will reveal more information.
Gordon Monroe (Late 20th century). A Ride of Courage. 20 ½" x 9 ½" x 17" bronze. Inscribed: "A Ride of Courage" 24/50 © '83, Gordon Monroe.
Est. 3,000 - 4,000
1,600 + 336
I am not an art dealer. Questions appropriate for that role should be directed to Jerry Gorowski in Great Falls
He is qualified, certified, and a veteran of this history.
I maintain a blog where I post information that comes my way. scriverart.blogspot.com. I’ve written a memoir/biography available at any bookstore like Amazon. “Bronze Inside and Out” by Mary Scriver, published by the University of Calgary Press.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Sid Gustafson, who is from the high-achieving family of Rib Gustafson, is known around here as a veterinarian like his father and brother, except that he has a specialty practice in race horses. He teaches equine behavior, and posts on Twitter. In addition, he writes both nonfiction and novels, often based on truth, like “Swift Dam,” just published. The link above is to a website called “Scriggler” where you can read his story called “Smallpox.” He often expands such stories into whole novels. Lately he has been recording short stories on South Cloud, something I would like to do but never get around to actually doing.
“Swift Dam” is about the 1964 catastrophic dam collapse on Birch Creek and the lethal consequences, changing lives and the land right up until now. I was here at the time.
The year 1914 is the year Bob Scriver was born, and those who knew him will realize that he is sort of the inspiration for the character called Stuf. Sid knew him mostly by stopping as a kid with his father at the Scriver Studio and taxidermy shop in the Sixties. Raised on the Blackfeet reservation and often spending the summer cowboying with someone like Billy Big Springs Sr., Sid has more ties to the rez land and families than Jimmy Welsh. Jr. did, though no one would dare say so. Every spring Sid goes up to the grave of James Willard Schultz, which is near the Gustafson ranch on Two Medicine, and does a little maintenance. Schultz was a white man who married a Native American and longed to be NA. His versions of their lives were sometimes a bit more dramatic than real, which is not an advantage in this prudish just-the-facts culture.
Sid is more romantic than I am but quite truthful once you allow for that. “His” bears do things that “my” bears would not. He’s inclined to mysticism and always searching for true love, but very much anchored in practical how-to. Bob Scriver would have loved these stories. It’s good to be near Sid some of the year and via the Internet.
www.sidgustafson.com More books, photos, ideas.
Friday, March 18, 2016
Feature photo: Scriver statue getting its luster back
Eliza Wiley Independent Record
Eliza Wiley Independent Record - Andrew Smith, with Smith Art Conservation in Long Beach, California, buffs the large sculpture of a professional rodeo rider made by Bob Scriver for the Montana Historical Society.
Andrew Smith, with Smith Art Conservation in Long Beach, California, buffs the large sculpture of a professional rodeo rider entitled ‘Symbol of the Pros,’ by Bob Scriver, completed in 1982 for the Montana Historical Society. On the 100th anniversary of Scriver’s birthday, MHS celebrated with the restoration of one of his iconic sculptures. The bronze sculpture stands 17 feet high and weighs 2.5 tons and is indicative of his early days of professional rodeo series. To honor his birthday, MHS has a new exhibit of his work on display in Montana's Museum and will host two free public events today from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with traditional Native American dancers and a hands-on youth activity that will provide clay for young people so they can try their hand at sculpting. Then from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. there will be a free public reception at MHS that will include a short program, birthday cake and refreshments.