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Bob Morgan: The Seeley Collection

February 22, 2024

Through:

March 15, 2024

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Show runs from February 9 – March 15

Purchased artwork may be picked up on March 15th.

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Artist’s Statement

by Robert Morgan

1929 – 2015

 

Most of my work deals with the West, particularly Montana.  I have had a lifetime interest in and love of Montana’s rich history.  Along with this interest, I know my subjects, I know the country, and I know the area’s history because I have grown up here.  I have been steeped in the area’s history and lore.  I have tried to paint with accuracy as well as artistic merit those events and subjects that interest me as well as those that I thought would interest art patrons and collectors.

I strive for accuracy based on extensive research, and education.  But I have also acquired knowledge from years of doing many of the activities that I have depicted.  I have hunted, trapped, hiked the back country, fished the streams, and worked in the woods.  In my youth, I worked on Helena’s Main Street, when you knew the store owner and the quality of the merchandise, and you could depend on the clerk for good advice.

I believe that the Helena I knew as a boy is important.  Because I knew many people, a trip downtown was very pleasant.  There was only one stoplight in town at Sixth and Main streets.  Traffic was not a problem.  The old streetcar tracks were still in evidence.  Everything you needed or wanted could be found on Main Street. In a two-block walk, you could catch up on the news by visiting your friends and neighbors you met as you sauntered along the sidewalks.

When urban ‘removal’ hit Helena, many historic buildings were destroyed or altered.  I felt passionate about saving their memories through my artwork.  I wanted to portray Helena as a vibrant, lively, colorful community – in living color- and I think I accomplished that.  My work, along with some splendid writing by local authors about the area’s history has helped to rekindle interest in Helena’s fascinating past.

I am painting a rapidly disappearing West.  One only has to look around to see that it is changing.  We have increased traffic, development, fishing and hunting, population and recreation, all of which have taken their toll on our land and our lives and our lifestyles.  I paint the old and new West, because I want to record both versions of this West that we live in.

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This exhibition showcases a small portion of the Jack Seeley Collection of Bob Morgan originals (and one print).  Linda Seeley, daughter of Jack Seeley wrote the following about the unique friendship and professional patronage between Jack and Bob over the years.

Jack Seeley had a forty-five year friendship with Bob Morgan.  Only two years apart in age, they held a unique bond.  Both grew up in Montana during the lean years, and worked to support their families.  They shared a passion for western art and the beauty of our state.  The Seeleys commissioned paintings and bronzes by Bob and were champions for his work throughout Montana.

Their ‘artistic’ association deepened when Bob accepted a commission to paint a large work for the Helena Regional Airport and needed an appropriate studio.  The Seeleys owned a hotel with a sunny ballroom and a remarkably high ceiling, which Bob was invited to use to create his commission.  Later Bob returned to the ballroom for a commission of fourteen mural sized works.

When the Montana Historical Society staged their Bob Morgan exhibition, they reached out to Jack for the unique and beautiful works he had collected.  He was rumored to have the largest private collection of Morgans.

Bob, Gen, Jack, and Eve met often for dinners, drinks, and card games.  These get-togethers were always fun, but even better when Gen brought one of her famous Lemon Meringue Pies.  We like to think they are all playing pinochle together right now.

 

Thank You to the Jailhouse Gallery volunteers

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