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, October 22, 2008

DIORAMA: Grizzly, Wolverine, Eagle


As I remember, this was the first of the diorama animals that Bob made. He had a real feel for the “real bears,” as the Blackfeet called them to distinguish them from black bears or “nothing bears.” In Bob’s youth he hunted grizzlies, but at the time I knew him he was fifty and only a meat hunter. No more trophies. Instead he “was” the bear and prowled around the living room on all fours, searching under sofa cushions, in between working on his figurine.

The griz is way up in the mountains, so far up that an eagle is flying past lower than this ridge, and digging up a marmot, who defiantly sticks his head out. A wolverine is over to the right. This may be another Les Peters background -- hard to tell from only a picture of the diorama. Bob tried to imitate Les’ style and colors, with about 80% success.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


FRANCIS PAUL MASA (From the Great Falls Tribune)

KALISPELL -- Korean War veteran Francis Paul Masa, 80, of Kalispell, known as “Paul Masa,” a Western art dealer, died of natural causes Friday at his home in Kalispell.

Francis Paul Masa passed away peacefully at his home on Friday, October 10, 2008, surrounded by his family. Paul was born April 22, 1928, in Baker, MT, the son of Frank and Elisabeth (Sonsalla) Masa. He has two younger brothers, John and Tom Masa. Paul grew up during the Great Depression on a family farm near Marmath, N.D. and attended local schools.

Paul said, “My dad was a hard worker. I learned to work. He gave me the best education I ever got, hard work.” In his pursuit of “chasing the dollar,” he worked various positions in his life. He was a determined, strong-willed, loving man. He was a generous benefactor to many local groups and charitable causes. Paul’s work ethic carried him through life until his final days.

As a young man, he worked at the family farm and ranch. He also worked for neighbors driving tractors. Finally, at age 19, he drove his first car. Paul then worked various jobs, including on the railroad, until he was drafted to the United States Army in 1950, from Marmarth, N.D. He served in the Korean War as a mortar gunner. While in Korea, he was awarded the Bronze Star medal for unhesitant devotion to duty, tireless efforts and aggressive initiative. He contributed immeasurably to the successful accomplishment of his unit’s missions and reflects great credit on himself and the United States infantry. Paul willingly worked excessively long and arduous hours without proper food or rest under enemy fire to lend support to the infantry units in the field and to help accomplish the many other missions.

Upon his discharge he worked jobs in farming and construction. He then went to work for Montana Dakota Utility as the plant manager, and worked an additional part-time job as a bartender in Baker. There he met his wfie, Doris, at a New Year’s Dance. Paul and Doris were married in Baker on December 13, 1958. Paul and Doris leased a bar in Baker for four years.

After vacationing in the Kalispell area, Paul and Doris decided to make Kalispell, MT., their home, purchasing the Log Cabin Bar. Paul began to sell art on the side. Paul and Doris ran a successful business for more than 19 years in Kalispell. Paul then pursued his side business as a Western art dealer, full time.

Paul and Doris bought, sold and traded art and bronzes from 1953 until his death. This was Paul’s business, but also his passion. He loved every minute of wheeling and dealing when selling art with his friends and colleagues. His upbringing and belief in work kept him an active businessman. He attended more than 40 auctions in Great Falls, MT. Paul was well-known and leaves many dear family, friends and business associates behind.

Paul received many awards. In 2004 he was the winner of the “Bob Scriver Bronze Award” for his outstanding contributions to the C.M. Russell Auction and the field of Western art. In 2007 he was awarded “The Mentor Award” recognizing him as one of the most knowledgeable and informed art dealers operating in the Western United States. In this capacity he has seen fit to share his art and business expertise with others in the field.

Paul and Doris enjoyed many fishing trips together as avid fishers, including trips to Alaska for salmon. Paul greatly enjoyed spending time with his family. He hosted an annual Fourth of July party at the lake and was the grillmaster, if you like a rare burger.

Paul is survived by his wife of 50 years, Doris Masa; his children, grandchildren, and two brothers.

Comment by me would be tasteless at this time, but I’ll point out that Bob Scriver had nothing to do with choosing the recipient of the Scriver Bronze Skull -- in fact, had been dead for five years at the time it was given to Masa by the Ad Club.

Friday, October 10, 2008


This bust was made as a study for the small corpus Bob was commissioned to make a year before his daughter died, 1965, and which became connected with that loss.

The model is Maurice Chaillot, brother to Bob’s second wife, Jeanette Caouette whom he married in Edmonton just at the end of WWII. Maurice was much younger, a “surprise” baby late in his mother’s life. Highly educated at a Jesuit boarding school, he was a professor of French for many years and is now retired to a small Canadian paradise with an historic log cabin. He is himself a fine painter and photographer.

This portrait is “romantic” in style. Marks of Bob’s fingers are dominant rather than tool marks or the absence of any marks. This is almost impressionistic. It is classical in the sense that most classical busts have no draperies or embellishments, and yet it is romantic in its asymmetry and emotion. Mrs. John Walters, who commissioned the small corpus but not the bust, specifically wanted Jesus to be still alive, looking to the heavens and crying out, “Father, Father, why hast thou forsaken me.”

Bob also made a bust of Maurice in a more formal style, portraying him as himself, still without collar or drapery but in a more detailed and serene sort of way. Maurice was given a copy of this bust, but kept in the custody of his sister, it was sold by mistake while she was in the hospital. Someone in the LA area owns a remarkable portrait by Bob Scriver. It was unfinished: white plaster.

So far as I knew, few of either busts were ever sold to customers and only one of each was cast in bronze. But then Carroll College disclosed that they had a casting of the rough study. The Montana Historical Society ought to have both castings.


This Bob Scriver bronze is part of his rodeo series which consists of one dynamic and romantically executed portrait of each event, plus a more classically (detailed) portrait of the animal in question, but at rest -- simply standing. The animals are the key.

in this piece the composition and challenges of bronze-casting are relevant. This “design” is an explosion, which Scriver often uses in action pieces -- diagonal arcs fly out from a center. The technical challenge is the small base of metal (one horse leg) holding up a large body, meaning the body must be hollow and thin, while the leg itself is solid and of high-quality bronze with no honeycombing or bubbles. This can be tested by sharply rapping and listening for the sound.

“Paywindow” -- which means a bucking horse so vigorous that the rider is bound to score high if he can stay on -- portrays bareback riding, which is done on a horse with no saddle but a cinch around its flanks to make it buck. The cinch is padded with sheepskin but nevertheless is a matter of worry to humane society members. Other than that, the horse wears a halter -- no bit -- and the rider has only a handhold to keep him on -- no saddle. The two parallel “rough-stock” events are saddle bronc riding, and bull-riding where the bull has the added aggravation of clanking cowbells hung on the cinch around its flanks. Aside from being huge and snaky, bulls are considered harder and more dangerous to ride because they will attack the rider once he’s on the ground. Horses occasionally do the same thing, with front feet since they have no horns. On the other hand, many bulls and horses become accustomed to “show biz” and are quite mellow when not in the arena.

This particular photograph is excellent and shows the varied green patina that Scriver worked hard to achieve, using as a model a Barye casting made in Paris It also reveals the balletic quality of the two partners in the event.

For more detail, consult Scriver’s self-published book, “An Honest Try.” The book shows each piece in black and white against a rodeo setting.