In the new exhibition â€˜Altered Stateâ€™, which runs at the Holter Museum in Helena, Montana, until 13 April 2014, the popular American painter Monte Dolack takes a look at controversial topics such as climate change, coal, superfund sites, and the effects of extractive companies moving into Montanaâ€™s wild spaces.
Monte Dolack is a well-known and popular artist in Montana, and with this new exhibition, he still tries to speak to a wider audience, he told Darby Minow Smith from Grist magazine, though he is touching on a much more controversial topic than anything else he has produced over the 40 years he has been working as a visual artist.
â€œSome artists might fill a room with coal. It might be really cool but a lot of people might miss the message. You have to be pretty well informed about art to understand that vocabulary,â€ he told Minow Smith. The following is an excerpt of Darby Minow Smithâ€™s review of the exhibition in Montana:
â€œUnlike the broad whimsy found in some of Dolackâ€™s past work, most of the pieces in Altered State are simple and subtle. An antelope watches a coal train zip along the plains. In â€˜Oil and Waterâ€™, a family of geese swims through the reflection of a refinery.
In a less subtle move, Dolack incorporated the fruits of Montanaâ€™s extractive industries into the collection. He used copper as a canvas; the frames are rubbed with coal. One frame of bright, jagged coal pieces nearly overwhelms the painting inside: a meandering Smith River. â€˜Marriage of Convenienceâ€™ is a sculpture of a man and a woman made out of coal â€” Dolackâ€™s commentary on our dependance on the dirty fuel.â€
Darby Minow Smith in Grist, 3 Feb 2014
Dolack plans to continue to touch on coal and climate change in future works, but he wants to incorporate more animals and explore an international angle.
â€œThis work was about my own history, family, and culture,â€ he said. â€œBut [regional and global issues] touch each other.â€ The coal on those trains is heading from Montana to China, after all.
Â»Â Monte Dolackâ€™s home page and online gallery: www.dolack.com
Grist â€“ 3 February 2014:
The full Monte: Beloved Montana artist makes bold statement on climate and coal
By Darby Minow Smith
The photo on top of this article is a poster reproduced from an acrylic painting portraying downtown Missoula, Montana as if Glacial Lake Missoula had returned in the present day. It can be purchased at Monte Dolack Gallery: www.dolack.com
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