Lessons in Montana History
August 6, 2019
A good portion of our state’s history is recorded in the homesteads, ranch and farm buildings raised on the blood, sweat, and tears of early residents. When artist, Jane Stanfel, moved to the Roundup area in 2002, she noticed quickly that this tablet is being erased by weather, fire, neglect, and later development.
Just as swiftly she resolved to do her part for preservation and commenced what she titled her Ghost Ranch series of oil paintings of homesteads, abandoned ranches, and the people and their work from those times. To accompany these, she and husband, Larry, compiled recollections of the places and people by interviewing acquaintances, descendants, and where possible the principals themselves and distilling from this input what might be called oral histories.
Thus, the texts included with the paintings were not documented facts but anecdotal observations by living people. It might be said there is an element of folklore running through the histories and occasionally a thread of disagreement, and Jane and Larry are always pleased to receive new information.
During the years subsequent to some of the paintings, buildings and artifacts have deteriorated even further, and in one case, fire has destroyed the entirety of a painted scene.
In some cases, an article covering one ranch or event may require more than a single newspaper edition, and presently there is no fixed schedule for the appearance of articles. Further, the Stanfel’s would be grateful to hear of other properties that might be candidates for future inclusion in the series.
Jane Stanfel’s art has been exhibited, reviewed, and sold at the Jadite Gallery in New York City, at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, and at the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Her paintings have been exhibited and sold in galleries in San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago, as well as at several museums and galleries in Montana, Wyoming, and Alabama. The Stanfel’s collaborated on the text of these pieces, but it is mainly by Larry. He is the author/editor of five books and over 80 articles in journals and magazines.