On Saturday, November 14, we welcomed guests to the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center in Fort Benton for a reception to showcase the Monument’s first ever Artist-in-Residence, Paul Tunkis.
Paul spent two weeks in September canoeing the Wild and Scenic Missouri, taking photos, and drawing inspiration for his paintings. His series of Missouri Breaks works includes 25 original watercolors featuring the dramatic landscapes, geological wonders, charismatic wildlife, and human history of the area.
Artist Paul Tunkis presents four of his paintings to guests at the Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center. He completed a total of 25 original watercolors during his residency in September (Photo Friends.)
The BLM’s National Artist-in-Residence program serves to connect people to the wonders of the 245 million acres of public lands managed by the BLM. Artists that spend time in these areas – like the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument – help promote deeper understanding of and dialogue about the natural, cultural, and historic resources that abound on our public lands.
Attendees browse Paul’s paintings after his talk. Paul sold several paintings at the event, but you can purchase others from his website PaulTunkis.com. (Photo Friends.)
We chose one of Paul’s paintings to become part of the poster series that BLM will use in its national promotion of public lands like the Breaks. The selected piece is shown below and features LaBarge Rock, a well-known icon of the area that Paul, at first, struggled to capture.
“It’s really just a brown blob,” Paul recounted to the audience amid laughs before describing how he was able to find a unique vantage to capture some of the White Cliffs surrounding the igneous formation in order to make it more appealing to the eye.
“It was important for us to choose a painting that people will recognize as the Breaks,” said Cate Stumberg, who runs the Artist-in-Residence program for the Friends. “Paul did a great job capturing some well-known features along the river – and we loved the added touch of his solo canoe in many of the paintings. It gives the landscape a realistic human element.”
We chose Paul’s piece, “LaBarge Rock” to be featured in BLM’s national poster series.
Paul sold his paintings at the event on Saturday and will continue to sell them on his webiste at PaulTunkis.com. From now until the end of December, one third of the proceeds from the sales of Paul’s Breaks paintings will go to support our cottonwood restoration work.
We’re so grateful for his hard work and generosity! Paul will also host an event at his art gallery in Livingston, MT on December 18. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of any of his paintings during that day will benefit the Friends as well!
“Hole-in-the-Wall #3″ One of three paintings depicting a favorite spot for boaters to explore. (Photo Friends.)
We hope to support another artist next year. Thank you BLM for granting the Breaks it’s first Artist-in-Residence and thank you Paul Tunkis for your beautiful work!