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Friends –

Almost exactly twenty years ago my Mom, siblings and kids converged upon the homeland of my father…. Montana. Dad had passed on September 5th, 1999 and so the summer of 2000 became our celebration of his origins.

Bob Cooper's childhood home in Great Falls is still there, inhabited by my cousin Kristy. We love her for many reasons, not the least of which is that she is able to keep Dad's upstairs bedroom relatively true to how it was when he grew up… complete with model airplanes hanging from the slanted ceiling. Just around the corner is the former home (now museum) of Charles M. Russell, from whom I am told my Grandmother (Margie) took a brief lesson in painting -- although she was quite accomplished on her own.

That same year we took a mini-trip from Great Falls to Glacier National Park. A few days were spent hiking what was a vacation destination for my Dad and family, and we visited many viewpoints that my grandmother chose to sketch and paint.

This painting that I just finished, "Bequeathed", started from a snapshot taken during one of our hikes that summer. Because the location and the timing are so evocative of memories for me, what started out as a celebration of a beautiful place became more than that. You can enjoy the image of four adventurous hikers making their way to the summit, or you may also look a little deeper to see images embedded in the wet and rocky landscape.

These ghostly images of real people in their early years have meaning to me because of my roots. But I anticipate that anyone, like me, who loves wilderness and family, can find a separate meaning in the symbols of all that was bequeathed.

That is more than I will say, for now.