Big Horn, WY
The Brinton Museum, June 5-July 31
This story was featured in the June 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art June 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
A rare aesthetic synergy can occur when a body of fine art appears in a uniquely appropriate venue. That’s precisely what members of The Brinton Museum are among the first to experience while attending the June 5th opening of Landscapes & Beyond, a show of more than two dozen mostly recent works by famed Montana landscape painter Clyde Aspevig.
The Brinton, located on the historic 620-acre Quarter Circle A Ranch on the eastern slope of the Big Horn Mountains, dedicates itself to preserving and promoting Native American and western history, art, and culture from the 19th century to the present day. Its tradition of promoting the West’s finest artists stretches back to the early 20th century, when Bradford Brinton began collecting works by greats like Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, Edward Borein, and Frank Tenney Johnson. And Aspevig, over the past four decades, has earned a reputation as a pre-eminent portrayer of what he terms “pure landscapes”—pristine scenes of nature still unspoiled in the face of the ever-encroaching modern world.
“I’ve known Clyde since 1990, when I became director of The Brinton,” says Kenneth Schuster, who also serves as the institution’s chief curator and gave Aspevig a show there back in 1992. “His work is aging like a fine wine, evoking images that are much deeper and more universal in meaning and nuance than the mere portrayal of landscapes.” Schuster notes that Aspevig is present at a ticketed dinner for around 70 guests on Saturday, June 4, and will give a gallery talk during opening weekend, with more details on both events to be found on the museum’s website.
“Art is always a two-way street,” says Aspevig. “I hope I can share with people—who bring their own ideas and opinions to the show—some new and different ways to look at landscape.”
With that in mind, the artist is particularly interested in responses to some of his recent paintings of the northern Montana prairies where he grew up—vast, often subtle expanses far different from the dramatic desert Southwest or Rocky Mountain vistas most people associate with western landscape painting. He’s also been energized lately by the challenge of depicting weather on the prairie, “trying to figure out how to represent through brushwork the kind of kinetic energy you feel when you see a lightning storm,” he says.
That kind of questing approach to his art has continually won the artist top accolades and awards over the years from museums including the Autry Museum of the American West, the C.M. Russell Museum, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Aspevig, who laughs at the fact that he recently qualified to register for Medicaid, is busier than ever these days, including time he volunteers as a director of the nonprofit American Prairie Reserve and a new studio/gallery he and his wife, artist Carol Guzman, have just built on their property near Bozeman. “At 65, I feel I’m just beginning,” he says. “I want to step on the gas now more than ever before.” —Norman Kolpas
MORE RESOURCES FOR ART COLLECTORS & ENTHUSIASTS
• Subscribe to Southwest Art magazine
• Learn how to paint & how to draw with downloads, books, videos & more from North Light Shop
• Sign up for your Southwest Art email newsletter & download a FREE ebook