Ace Powell Glacier art returns to Montana

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Don Bennett, president of Freedom Bank, holds a replica giclée print of a 4" by 8" painting by Ace Powell on Monday, February 4, in Columbia Falls. One hundred prints will be sold for $395 with $150 dollars from each going to benefit the Glacier Park Fund. The original painting, which is currently on display in the bank, will be on display until next year. Plans are being made for the painting to be moved to Glacier National Park in 2014. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

A large oil painting of a Glacier National Park landscape by cowboy artist Ace Powell has found its way back to Montana after being with an Ohio family for 50 years.

And through a partnership involving Freedom Bank, the Glacier National Park Fund and local art trader Kevin Moore, the painting eventually will be on display at Lake McDonald Lodge, the place that originally originally inspired the artwork.

According to Moore, a young couple from Cincinnati were on their one and only trip to Glacier National Park in 1962 when they spotted Powell, wearing a cowboy hat and painting on an easel near the lodge.

“They were pretty impressed, so they commissioned him for a big mural,” Moore said.

The purpose of the painting of Lake McDonald was to cover a large bay window at the couple’s  Cincinnati home. 

“They would rather look at Glacier National Park every day” than the view outside their window, Moore said. 

The couple are now deceased, and the 4-by-8-foot painting was passed on to their daughter, who lives in Cincinnati and has asked to remain anonymous, Moore said. 

Moore’s organization that sponsors art events, the Glacier Gala, purchased the painting from the daughter last year after she contacted Powell’s surviving partner, Bernie Kushner, at the Ace Powell Gallery at the Outlaw Inn in Kalispell.

“It took forever to make arrangements to have it boxed and shipped,” Moore said.

Moore sold the mural to Freedom Bank in Columbia Falls, where it has been on display in the lobby for the last month, with plans to donate the piece to the Glacier National Park Fund and relocate it to Lake McDonald Lodge in about a year.

“We’ve got a good relationship with the Glacier Park Fund, so we just try to do everything we can to support them and the community,” Freedom Bank President Don Bennett said. “This fit in with our overall goals.”

The one-year delay in donating the mural is related to tax law compliance, Bennett said, “plus we want the opportunity for tourists and our customers to have a chance to view it here before it goes to the park.”

Bennett said the mural is a fine piece of work, “but actually, I like the history of it. It’s just nice to get it back into Montana.”

Powell was a renowned artist who painted Western scenes with cowboys and Indians in the tradition of Charlie Russell, one of Powell’s early mentors. Powell died in 1978 at the age of 66.

Moore said a fundraiser is under way involving the sale of 100 giclée oil-on-canvas reproductions of the painting. The 16- by 32-inch paintings come with a certificate of authenticity from the Ace Powell Gallery at a price of $395 each. 

About half of them already have been sold, many of them to businesses in Kalispell, Moore said. Proceeds are going to Freedom Bank and the Glacier National Park Fund, he added.

Bennett said the Powell painting now complements another depiction of St. Mary Lake that is combined with a bronze eagle sculpture.

“We’re going to try to work on some other things to bring some local art to the bank,” Bennett said. “We have plenty of room so we are thinking that with the Ace Powell [painting] here now, we’ll try to keep things going along those lines and add unique local art to the bank.”

Anyone interested in the remaining reproductions can call Freedom Bank at 892-1776, Moore at 250-4997 or the Glacier National Park Fund at 892-3250.

 Reporter Jim Mann may be reached at 758-4407 or by email at jmann@dailyinterlake.com.

 

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