Gordon Monroe, Native American Artist
"I got started in 1965," said Blackfeet sculptor Gordon Monroe (on right). "I worked after school for Bob Scriver. It was in this building that I learned a lot of my art."
That building, the former Scriver Museum, is now the Blackfeet Heritage Center and Art Gallery, where Monroe is the featured artist for the month of July.
Monroe's works may be easily accessed during North American Indian Days, as the Heritage Center has its official opening the first day of NAID, Thursday, July 10. The Center has extended hours for through NAID, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. all four days. In addition, a special reception is slated for noon on Friday, July 11, with refreshments, music by Ernie Heavy Runner and the artist himself on hand to talk about his art.
Monroe worked for the late sculptor from 1965 to 1972, and after leaving worked at the Blackfeet Community Free School, teaching art. The Free School was a cultural phenomenon in the 1970s, featuring a host of opportunities for young artists to explore new areas of expression.
Returning to Scriver's, Monroe contracted some of Bob's works, including the bull rider in front of the Heritage Center and a bronc rider behind the building. Some of his other works are on display in Great Falls.
The works on display this month represent real-life views of Monroe's world, as he remembers seeing it as a child. They were all made in the 1980s and were at the Native American Museum of Art in Spokane, he said, but when the institution closed the works were donated to the Blackfeet Tribe.
Pointing to a pair of figures, Monroe said, "That's our grand-mother, Non-Petrified Rock, and her husband, Heavy Runner. This was their life. We grew up in that kind of environment; they all reflect what we grew up with."
Some of the scenes include a group of dancers, a complete stick game (what Monroe calls "the first Indian casino"), a Thunder Pipe ceremony, a Holy Smoke, a healing ceremony, a traditional sky burial and more.
Blackfeet Heritage Center & Art Gallery