JERRY GOROSKI is the consultant appraisar to whom I refer inquiries about Scriver bronzes. He is formally trained and certified to do assessments and knew Bob Scriver as well as working for the CM Russell Museum in Great Falls. His gallery is called "Open Range Art."


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Dale Burk and Northern Plains Art

Dale Burk and his brother Stoney (who is my lawyer) are examples of the intelligent, educated, resilient outdoorsmen who were reared on the East Slope of the Rockies. Stoney was a jet fighter pilot for 17 years, is a staunch defender of the Right to Bear Arms, and does a lot of pro bono work for environmental groups. In the beginning he helped Dale get started, which accounts for the name of Dale's press: Stoneydale. Stoney is on the edge of retirement and wants to learn to paint.

Dale's press (actually, I should say that it is emphatically his wife Patricia's press as well) is focused on hunting and fishing, with a bit of history and maybe some cooking. Before he had a press he was a writer and reporter, receiving a Nieman Fellowship for Professional Journalists for 1975-76 at Harvard.

In 1969 Dale published "New Interpretations," a book of essays about 22 Montana artists, which I will list because people are now looking for information about many of these people. (If this describes yourself, you might check, which maintains a humonguous database.) An asterisk marks those who are deceased:

*Ace Powell (1912- 1978)
*Leroy Greene (1893 - 1978)
*Albert Racine
*Branson Stevenson
Elmer Sprunger (1919 - )
*Irvin “Shorty” Shope (1900 - 1975)
*Bob Scriver (1914 - 1999)
Fred Fellows (1934 - )
*Elizabeth Lochrie (1890 - 1981)
*J. K. Ralston (1896 - 1987)
*Hugh Hockaday (1892 - 1968)
Les Welliver (1920 - )
Bob Morgan (1929 - )
Gary Schildt (1938 - )
*Merle Olson (1910 - )
Bob Emerson
Stan Lynde (1931 -
Les Peters (1916 - )
*John Clarke (1881 - 1970)
Jim Haughey
*Leo Beaulaurier (1911 - 1984)
Rex Rieke

Some of these may also be deceased, but I just don't know it. When I joined Bob Scriver in 1961, these were the Montana artists who were at their peak and selling well. They ranged in style and socioeconomics all over the place. Al Racine was a Blackfeet contemporary with Bob, Branson Stevenson and Leroy Greene were patricians, John Clarke was also a Blackfeet but one who already belonged to history, Elizabeth Lochrie was a student of Winold Reiss, Hugh Hockaday now has a museum named for him, Bob Morgan has become a kind of guiding saint in Helena, as Ace Powell was in those days in Hungry Horse, Fred Fellows is still working but has gone back to the warm weather in the southwest, and Stan Lynde is as handsome and gracious as ever, still turning out fine work -- and so on.

If I had to name the major Western artists -- or even just the Montana artists today, I wouldn't know where to go for a definitive list. There are hordes of artists, many doing exceptional work, almost too many to cram into the motel that hosts the annual C.M. Russell Western Art Auction in March. (You might start checking their website -- the jurors have done their work for this year: chosen the paintings and assigned the prizes.) In fact, this auction has had a lot to do with inspiring so many artists, and so did Burk's book profiling these early standout people.

Dale Burk's second book is more analytical. "A Brush with the West" begins with a discussion of how the Northern Rockies has a mystical presence and romantic history. Then he reviews some of the early artists -- not just Charley Russell, who dominates all conversations, but also Catlin, Bodmer, Rungius, Schreyvogel and so on. He tells how people developed realistic art in a time when the Easterners were still 'wrastling with stuff that didn't look like anything. Then the galvanic shock of losing the Russell Mint Collection to an out-of-state buyer suddenly woke Montana to the fact that the larger world had been thinking about Western art after all. The rest of the book discusses the shaping forces that have brought us to the present art scene.

Watch Stoneydale Press for reissues of these books. Otherwise, one must keep checking such online used book sources as,, and

"New Interpretations" by Dale A. Burk, 1969. Library of Congress Cat.Card No. 82-99859

"A Brush with the West"
by Dale A. Burk, 1980. ISBN 0-87842-133-5

(I apologize for writing my name on the front of "New Interpretations." I was afraid it would sprout legs and walk off. These are working books and I pack them around with me.)
Stevensville, MT 59870

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