From the Wind River Range to the Canadian border, the northern Rocky Mountain West is an outsized land of stunning dimensions and emotive power. In Visions of the Big Sky, Dan Flores revisits the Northern Rockies artistic tradition to explore its diversity and richness. In his essays about the artists, photographers, and thematic historical imagery of the region, he blends art and cultural history with personal reflection to assess the formation of the region's character.The volume features 140 color and black-and-white illustrations, ranging from prehistoric rock art to modernist painting, and from charismatic wildlife scenes to classic landscape. They demonstrate the preponderance of Indians and wilderness in the region's art and explore the work of individuals as diverse as Edward Sheriff Curtis and Ansel Adams. Focusing on those whose art has defined the region, Flores tells how painters like Maynard Dixon interpreted the Northern Rockies and describes the contributions of women artists Fra Dana, Evelyn Cameron, and Emily Carr. A final essay, "What Was Charlie Russell Trying to Tell Us?" critically examines the legacy of Montana's cowboy artist.
Conversational in tone and as informative as they are entertaining, these essays provide rich vistas of their own. Visions of the Big Sky does for the region's art what The Last Best Place did for its literature.
Dan Flores is retired as A. B. Hammond Professor of History at the University of Montana, Missoula. He is the author of numerous books, including Visions of the Big Sky: Painting and Photographing the Northern Rocky Mountain West and The Natural West: Environmental History in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains.