I recently discovered two Montana artists, largely because I’ve been recently looking for artists who focus on horses. Two call outs are Kevin Red Star and Bill Drum.
Kevin Red Star (left) was born on the Crow Indian Reservation in Lodge Grass, Montana. During grade school, Crow students were denied association with their language and cultural heritage. Later, when he was one of 150 students chosen to attend the newly established Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he was encouraged to explore his history and culture through modern art techniques.
Says Kevin of his work and Indian culture: “Indian culture has in the past been ignored to a great extent. It is for me, as well as for many other Indian artists, a rich source of creative expression. An intertwining of my Indian culture with contemporary art expression has given me a greater insight concerning my art.”
His work has been shown at some of the majors around the country, including The Smithsonian Institution, CM Russell Museum, Southwest Museum, Whitney Museum of Western Art, Denver Art Museum and a host of others. Below are a couple of my personal favorites from his newest available works.
Crow Tipis on the Big Horn
Bill Drum was born and raised in Miles City, a ranching community in eastern Montana and now lives in Billings, Montana which is where his studio — Black Montana Black Iron Studio – is based. He has lived and worked in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Mexico City, New York and California so his influences are vast.
They collect their own raw material at Montana salvage yards where heavy equipment of enormous size pick up, crush and put into huge piles of old cars, from machinery, oil drums, kitchen appliances and various industrial detritus no longer useful in today’s modern world. These hill size mounds of scrap and salvage are a rich bonanza of artistic raw material for them, providing them with the colors and textures not achievable with new materials.
With torch and a plasma cutter, they cut the pieces into sizes, blending them into shape by hand and hammer or sometimes with larger tools. Then, they weld them into place on their sculptures with a MIG wire welder. For example, some of the various metals they use to get colors and textures include: old kitchen appliances (avocado, white, almond), shell oil drums (yellows and reds), old farm and ranch machinery weathered for decades, wrecked automobiles and trucks, discarded metal signs, worn out water heaters, air conditioners, rusted through steel roofing and siding.
A couple of fun Drum pieces include the following:
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