In the spring of 1993 my friend Lorne E. Render, Executive Director of the C.M. Russell Museum, introduced the first issue of “Russell’s West: the Magazine of the C.M. Russell Museum” by writing, “This new, semiannual magazine will provide articles and information about the art and culture of the West and, of course, about Charlie. One of the major goals of the Museum is to share and discuss concepts, and theories through various media.” Little did Lorne know that twenty-seven years later we would resurrect these classic stories, and share them on the internet, a media that at the time was in its infancy. Back then, we were all excited about the unveiling, but none of us knew the impact these issues would have over the next ten years and beyond. The articles have become important references for Russell lovers and scholars.
Please allow me to frame the setting. The 1990’s were the “Golden Age” of Russell scholarship. Within six years, a triplet of the finest and most important art books on Russell were published: Charles M. Russell, Word Painter by Dr. Brian Dippie (1993), Charles M. Russell, Sculptor by Dr. Rick Stewart (1994), and Charles M. Russell, Legacy by Dr. Larry Len Peterson (1999). All three were massive publications, measuring 12 x 12 inches; were close to 500 pages; and each won the prestigious Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. All three authors would eventually receive the C.M. Russell Heritage Award from the C.M. Russell Museum. After numerous attempts by others, in 1996 John Taliaferro published the first full-length biography on Russell, Charles M. Russell: The Life and Legend of America’s Cowboy Artist. Despite it being his first biography, its popularity inspired John to publish a number of other noted books.
In that same time span, those authors—along with a number of others—would pen articles for “Russell’s West.” The periodical presented the finest in Russell scholarship in a user friendly format with each article taking only a few minutes to read. Typically, there were four or five articles per issue. They are timeless and speak to anyone who loves Russell, Western American art, and Western American history. Because I was fortunate to be associated with the Museum from the start of “Russell’s West,” I will provide some personal observations with each article we present to you. I normally don’t spend a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror, but “Remembering Russell’s West” is an irresistible view, at once panoramic and intimate. Enjoy the ride. Hope is along the way.
Dr. Larry Len Peterson
Vice-Chairman, C.M. Russell Museum Board of Directors