Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Today, Google is gifting “Arts & Culture” users with pop-ups of Charles Russell’s “Snowstorm”, a magnificent painting that revives the “old west” and its awesomeness. Here Russell records a Montana non-typical winter of unusually harsh weather. He captures the necessity of horses in transportation and for packing, and moments of a cooperative multicultural gathering.
The painting reveals the raw essence of survival in a tough environment. According to art galleries, the winter of 86-87 was one of Montana’s most severe and nearly destroyed the state’s cattle industry. There were early heavy snows followed by a brief warm spell, and that combination laid an impenetrable layer of ice over the grass.
Over the years, I’ve experienced annual vicissitudes in Central Oregon’s winter weather. Some winters receive minimal or no snow. Others get stretches of snowfalls, deep, and in subnormal temperatures that for weeks freeze everything on the ground.
This Russell painting pushes my memories back to recent harsh winters. I’m sitting before the fireplace and through windows seeing our all-white environment. I’m awed, wondering about such as the difficulties of coping among cattle ranchers in Eastern Oregon.
That winter recorded by Russell seems unimaginable but was real. He uses that landscape to illustrate the most essential elements in tough times–survival, communication, and cooperation. Those are critical elements, recently-again highly recognized, and in the awareness of all people during our recent months of pandemic experience.
Universally, we’ll remember the winter of 2020, as a season potentially destructive to modern civilization’s critical elements–its industry and society.
Dear Friends: Variations of art, new and old, rolling to the forefront are significant. Diana