The Billings Outpost

YAM opens 45th art auction show

By SHARIE PYKE - For The Outpost

The Yellowstone Art Museum opened the 2013 auction show on Jan. 24. It’s the 45th, an anniversary that calls for sapphires, the theme of this year’s festivities.

Montana’s rare Yogo sapphires say it best, matching the Big Sky on a clear day, often with mysterious glints of red and purple. Montague’s Jewelers, as it has for many years, has donated the raffle item, a 14-karat gold pendant set with seven Yogo sapphires to be given away on the night of the auction, Saturday, March 2.

But the glorious, half-carat pendant isn’t the only gem. The juried show and sale by Western artists, mostly from Montana and Wyoming, consists of 140 pieces, everything from traditional landscapes to quirky but thoughtful juxtapositions of color, form and material.

“I like Western art,” said one of the security guards, John Mann. “Did you see the Koch collection? I really like ‘The Mexican Dancer.’ Charlie Russell put himself in the picture.”

The Koch Collection is not for sale, of course, but I, too, recommend the latest from the Koch collection. Chief Joseph’s war shirt is on display. It’s surprisingly small. Chief Joseph is one of my heroes, so in my head he was 6 feet tall, which shows that stature has nothing to do with greatness.

Last Thursday at the opening, one of Neil Jussila’s admirers stopped him and said, “I hope you don’t quit (making art.)” Though retired from Montana State University Billings, Professor Jussila is far from done painting. His pieces this year consist of two abstract expressionist panels. Most creative people only stop working when they are no longer on earth.

I once asked the late Hal Diteman if he ever got the artist’s equivalent of writer’s block. Yes, he did, he told me. And what did he do about it? He painted golden fall cottonwoods until he broke free. The right side of the brain ultimately demands to be heard.

This year’s entire show is on the second floor, a decision that has its pluses and minuses. The connecting space encourages the visitor to wander back and forth between the silent and live auctions without having to climb the stairs several times.

But many of the smaller pieces in the silent auction were stacked four and five deep, making it harder to focus on each individual work. The final verdict will come after the bidding closes and sales results are in.

Again, this year’s auction takes place on Saturday, March 2. General admission tickets are $95 in advance and $105 at the door. Reserved seating is limited, pre-purchase only, for $115.

Raffle tickets for the Yogo sapphire pendant are $10 each and are available now and until the drawing on auction night. You need not be present to win.

Take advantage of these many opportunities to see the exhibits for little or nothing. See you at the YAM!

February ArtWalk, Friday, Feb 1; 5 to 9 p.m. Free.

Saturday, Feb. 2; $1 admission all day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 9; Family Fun Day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.

Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Free.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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