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."


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sue Resch: Pinterest Collection

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.  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 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
1,900 +399

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
2,500 +525

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.   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.   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.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


On February 3, 1989, Bob Scriver, Western sculptor, was presented with the Governor’s Award at a ceremony called “Boots, BowTies, and Bob.”  The bowties were meant to refer to tuxedos and the ladies who organized the event found this very funny because Bob was notorious for going around in khakis with clay and plaster rubbed into them.  But the ladies were middle-aged and upscaled.  They had no awareness of his early life as a classical concert orchestra conductor, which meant he had a well-worn tuxedo, although a bit dated, made before WWII.  And so we go blundering along, still believing that clothes make the man.

As it happened, the speaker at this award ceremony, which gave Bob a medallion to wear, very like a British royal award, was not the Governor but the Lieutenant-Governor, a rather sophisticated fellow.  I forget his name but not his subject:  it was Robert Mapplethorpe, now back in the news.  The speech was delivered just months before the artist’s death from AIDS, prompted by an exhibit called “The Perfect Moment” that toured over the summer.  The exhibition became the centerpiece of a controversy concerning federal funding of the arts and censorship.

The people who promote Scriver bronzes though he’s been dead since 1999 (not from AIDS — he was just worn out, born in 1914) will not know about the real commonalities with Mapplethorpe, like his fondness for nudes.  Somewhere in the archives stored in the Montana Historical Society is an album of nude photos of his first wife, Alice Prestmo Scriver Skogen Stainbrook, taken as she slept lit by a flashlight.  She was a well-built woman and they were praiseworthy photos, but nothing so sophisticated and slick as a Mapplethorpe nude.  Also, because of Bob’s background in music, particularly the years at the Vandercook School in South Chicago, much of which he spent in the jazz clubs of the North Side, he had warm feelings towards African-Americans.  

Both Bob and his fourth wife, Lorraine, made some small nude figures which the Montana Historical Society discretely hides in a cabinet.  One of them is a re-creation of a nude I started, lying on her stomach.  Bob passed by when I was working on it, picked up up a sculpture tool and thrust it up between her legs, making a ratcheting sound.  And big hole in the clay.  I covered my outrage which was partly because he thought it was funny, but also because it showed his attitude towards my (small) creations, it expressed something about sex that was part of our relationship, and because it was so idle — as though it were not important at all.  His version was sentimental: the woman has a little butterfly sitting on her hand. 

All these aspects were a little related to the furor over Mapplethorpe’s work and a lot related to a kind of insistence on dominating everyone else with one’s own purposes and values.  For instance, Bob was a rabid gun-control opponent, believing that any government restraints were evil and, more than that, unless everyone had a gun cabinet, the tanks would come rolling down the street.  This made a certain amount of sense for people who saw something similar in Europe during WWII.

Part of this resistance to any kind of regulation pertains to censorship, often acted out in the name of pornography: knowledge of private things that only the privileged can openly know.  The talk I remember was not about the actual guns so much as their registration, so that authorities could come down the street with a list in their hands, knocking on doors.  

The problem with porn, of course, is that it’s culturally determined so it’s forbidden glimpses of ankle in one time/place and women bound with their  legs held wide-open in another.  Bob was a hot reactor to sex, but not very sophisticated.  Johnny Minyard, the wickedest man in town, asked him to make a realistic dildo, evidently not knowing where to buy one.  (Today he could find battery-operated pink plastic ones with butterflies attached in the mail-order catalogues for old folks.)  Since Bob then had the mold, he made one for himself which he hid in the darkroom.  To me it looked quite familiar, but when I got playful about it, he was embarrassed and either hid it in some more secret place or destroyed it.

Much of his work was semi-naked men: Blackfeet warriors.  (All the animals were unclothed.)  He made a nice nude portrait of his second wife as a kind of memento after they were divorced.  Nakedness signals vulnerability, ownership, and comparisons which might not be flattering.  Thus it has access to emotion, gated by shame and guilt, curiosity and pride.  Bob loved to go nude, but was so hairy people said he looked like a bear.  His feet were sensitive, so he wore high-tops, suggesting a satyr with tennies instead of hooves.

The Mapplethorpe “exhibition set off one of the fiercest episodes of America's "culture wars" — and sparked a recurring debate about state-funded cultural production and the support of sexually explicit or sacrilegious art by public funds.”  This continues decades after Bob’s award.  I think the ideas were so foreign to what the audience expected —though it was central in urban places and other sophisticated circles — that they just didn’t hear it.  

The anonymous author of the Wikipedia entry says:  “As much as he has been made out to be a renegade and outlaw, Mapplethorpe is an utterly mainstream artist. He loved freshness and glamor and was obsessed with the moment, which his photographs always reflect. In his restricted spaces and his feeling for abstraction and attentiveness to every shape, edge and texture, Mapplethorpe is a child of the Formalism of the 1960’s.”

No incidents marred the show's run at the Washington Project for the Arts.
However, Senator Jesse Helms introduced legislation that would stop the NEA from funding artwork he considered “obscene.” The legislation subsequently required any recipients of NEA funds to sign an oath that declared they would not promote obscenity. The oath provoked protests from artists and arts organizations. When, during the next grant cycle, in this climate of fear, applications for support equaling hundreds of thousands of dollars were rejected. Outraged artists filed lawsuits against the agency. Ultimately, a compromise was reached in Congress. Although the radically restrictive Helms amendment did not pass, restrictions were placed on NEA funding procedures.”

I can understand why Jesse Helms did not want people to think about him naked — I’m sure he would not do well in nude comparisons, much less performance — but he understands the compensatory uses of money, as many old men do — and he intends to use it as much as he can for political gain.

Most Western art is meant to be “family-friendly” in a commercial sort of way, except some of those frisky cowgirls get out of control and start looking like covers of Ranch Romance novels.  That hardly compares with the plethora of stripped-off people, sometimes conjugating, that you can look at in any porn site on the internet or maybe perfume ads in magazines. The pendulum has swung outside the limits of clothing and entered the tailoring of intimate parts with surgery.  The real subject of this post is not specific persons, but how often the repressed is all around us until it breaks through convention, is explored to exhaustion, and finally withdraws to recover.