ARTISTS

Get to Know The Artists

JOE HALKO

Joe Halko grew up a student of nature of a ranch south of Great Falls, Montana. He learned the habits of the fox and the skunk, the crafty ways of the crows who nested in the same tree year after year, and whether the storm clouds held precious rain or dreaded hail. He built toy trucks and tractors out of leftovers from his father's shop and sculpted with clay out of the creek bank using ranch animals as models. He learned the basics of taxidermy from an uncle and so began his serious study of the anatomy of game birds and animals. Halko's first formal art education was Art Instruction, Inc. of Minneapolis, a correspondence course.

After graduating from high school, he worked as a taxidermist in Great Falls and studied art at the University of Great Falls before he was drafted into the US Army. With that commitment complete, he took the train to New York to study art at the Fisk Studios and to work as a commercial artist for a Long Island advertising agency. He spent his free time there at the Museum of Natural History sketching the taxidermy mounts and the backgrounds. The school, work and big city museums were new and rewarding experiences, but the busy city was not where he wanted to be. 

He returned to Great Falls and earned his bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry - hoping for a career with the Forest Service or the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department. Through all of this Halko had been studying painting and sculpting, and spending as much time as possible in the out of doors. As it turns out the taxidermy and the biology degree were solid preparations for Joe's career as a wildlife sculptor.

His first serious sculptures were done as aids for painting - to study shadows, dimensions, and foreshortening. As he did more of these sculptures he found that he really enjoyed the sculpting, and it came easily for him. He continued his day work as a sought-after taxidermist doing sculpting on the side until 1976, when he turned to sculpting as his full-time occupation.

He has been fortunate to have lived in Montana all of his life. He married Margaret also a Montana native in 1969, and they have two daughters who are now grown. There were many opportunities along the way to move to bigger cities and larger markets, to travel and participate in the so-called big time shows, but Halko wanted to live and to raise his family in the environment they all loved. They spent 17 years south of Cascade along the Missouri River where wildlife and bird life was abundant and much studied. In 1998 Joe and Margaret moved to Choteau, another beautiful spot in Montana. It is a picturesque Montana town along the east front of the Rocky Mountains with easy access to the rugged wilderness and numerous wildlife preserves.

GARY SCHILDT

Gary Schildt grew up on a ranch on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.  Mr. Schildt is a sculptor and painter, who works primarily in oil and watercolor.  A member of the Blackfeet Tribe, Mr. Schildt was educated at City College of San Francisco and the San Francisco Academy of Fine Art.    His work is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution and has been shown at the Museum of Native American Cultures and the National Indian Art Show.  He has solo exhibits at the Montana Historical Society, where his work is also on permanent display, the C.M. Russell Gallery, and in numerous galleries nationwide.

From 1995 to 1997, Gary worked on the Blackfeet Sundance Series consisting of 42 large paintings chronicling the Medicine Lodge Ceremony, or Okan of the Blackfeet Tribe.  The exhibit traveled to museums across Montana throughout 1998.  The paintings will remain as a permanent collection in the the new wing at the C.M. Russell Museum beginning in March 2001.

LORENZO GHIGLIERI

Lorenzo Ghiglieri was born and raised in Southern California.   Lorenzo's Father and Grandfather were sculptors and his mother, a French artist. He studied the work of Rembrandt, Corot, and other masters at the museums.  At seventeen he won a prestigious art scholarship.  At age twenty-two, while serving in the US Navy, he was commissioned to paint what became a gift from the United States to Great Britain for Queen Elizabeth's coronation. Over 200 bronze sculptures of wildlife and native cultures emerged from his creative energy. A life-size eagle scuplture was installed at Pershing Park across from the White House in Washington, DC.  A magnificent bronze of St. Francis of Assisi, Man of Peace was presented to his holiness Pope John Paul II, at the Vatican in 1982.  In 1985, Lorenzo visited the King of Spain.  His Majesty, Juan Carlos I, accepted Lorenzo's bronze sculpture, "St. Francis of Assisi", presently at the Royal Palace in Madrid.A twice life-size sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad, was completed for City Hall in Kansas City, Missouri.In 1994 Lorenzo sculpted the Official "American Bald Eagle" in bronze, silver, and gold which is displayed at the White House and is part of their permanent collection. His most recent creation, "Skookum Hyak" (Power Surge), is an over 33 foot tall bronze eagle dominating the entrance of Seven Feathers Hotel & Casino Resort in Canyonville, Oregon

Lorenzo's works are eloquent, strong and original. Collectors from all over the world own his works and are enthused about being a part of a career, that shows no limits.  Lorenzo enjoys a reputation as one of the world's most eminent and respected artists.  His sculptures jump out at you in their startling realism.

GORDON MONROE

Monroe worked for the late sculptor from 1965 to 1972, and after leaving worked at the Blackfeet Community Free School, teaching art. The Free School was a cultural phenomenon in the 1970s, featuring a host of opportunities for young artists to explore new areas of expression.

Returning to Scriver's, Monroe contracted some of Bob's works, including the bull rider in front of the Heritage Center and a bronc rider behind the building. Some of his other works are on display in Great Falls.

The works on display this month represent real-life views of Monroe's world, as he remembers seeing it as a child. They were all made in the 1980s and were at the Native American Museum of Art in Spokane, he said, but when the institution closed the works were donated to the Blackfeet Tribe.

Pointing to a pair of figures, Monroe said, "That's our grand-mother, Non-Petrified Rock, and her husband, Heavy Runner. This was their life. We grew up in that kind of environment; they all reflect what we grew up with."

Some of the scenes include a group of dancers, a complete stick game (what Monroe calls "the first Indian casino"), a Thunder Pipe ceremony, a Holy Smoke, a healing ceremony, a traditional sky burial and more.

CONNIE TVENTEN

Connie Tveten carves and paints waterfowl, game birds, and related subjects.  Life in rural Northeastern Montana enables Tveten to study birds in their natural habitat.  She relies on first hand observation in the field for accurate renderings of bird subjects, with emphasis on correct anatomy and attitudes that capture the character of each individual bird.

Tveten has exhibited her work at the Ducks Unlimited National art show, Kansas City, MO; The Waterfowl Festival Easton, MD; The Pacific Rim Wildlife Art Show, Tacoma WA; The C.M.Russell Art Show and Auction, Great Falls, MT; and the Governor's residence, Helena, MT.  She has placed among the finalists Montana Duck Stamp competition, and a hunting still life painting was selected for the '89 Illinois Migratory Waterfowl Association Sponsor Print.

JESSICA ZEMSKY

Zemsky has gained recognition for her portrayals of family life on the frontier, particularly of women and children. Zemsky does portraiture in the United States and Europe. She is a founding member of the Northwest Rendezvous Group, and has been a full time painter for over twenty years.  Her husband is the well known artist Jack Hines.

 
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