Gordon McConnell

When the West Was Won

September 5–October 11, 2018

Reception: Thursday, September 20, 5pm–8pm (Catered, Free and Open to Public)

Conversation with the Artist: Thursday, September 20, 5:30 pm in Gallery

On Thursday, September 20, the Northcutt Steele Gallery on MSUB campus will host an artist reception for Gordon McConnell’s exhibition, When the West Was Won, beginning at 5pm.  At 5:30pm Gallery Director Dr. Leanne Gilbertson will conduct a conversation with the artist about the exhibition in the gallery. A question and answer session with the audience will follow.

When the West Was Won is comprised of paintings and mixed-media works completed by Billings-based Gordon McConnell over the past five years. Since the late 1980s, McConnell has created works inspired by Western film frames and informed by his sustained study of the history of the American West and its representations in literature, art, film, and photography. While his personal visual language is likely familiar to most in the region, When the West Was Won brings together familiar images with some of the artist’s latest departures. Together these works offer a unique opportunity to reflect upon the breadth and depth of the artist’s interrogations of our collective cultural fantasies and individualized experiences of the American West.

Throughout his work, McConnell utilizes keen wit, sustained research, and painterly sincerity to explore the aesthetic allure and cultural fascination of the American West. This suite of lovingly-wrought works prompts us to consider our investments in each deceptively familiar, yet ultimately mysterious image—the promises they hold, and the losses they contain. Ultimately,  When the West Was Won raises questions about the roles these images play in constructing ideals of American masculinity, loyalty, and independence and offer a timely meditation on what the West and its frontier myth has meant and continues to mean for the collective American psyche.

Gordon McConnell received a BA in Studio Art from Baylor University and an MA in Art History from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He served as Curator at Yellowstone Art Center, now Yellowstone Art Museum, for sixteen years.

In a gallery adjacent to the exhibition, visitors will have the opportunity to view some of the Western films that have inspired the artist and will be invited to create their own visual or written interpretations of the impact these images have had on their own lives. This interactive exhibition is designed and installed by MSUB Art Students and gallery assistants, Angel Shandy and Morgan Syring.

The Northcutt Steele Gallery is located on the first floor of the Liberal Arts on the Montana State University Billings campus. Parking on the campus is free after 5pm. For more information visit www.facebook.com/northcuttsteelegallery.

Gray County 

Gordon McConnell, Gray County, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48”. ©Gordon McConnell. Photo: Jane Waggoner Deschner

The Last Cowboy

Gordon McConnell, The Last Cowboy, 2018, acrylic on canvas mounted on wood, 11 1/8  x 25 ½ “. ©Gordon McConnell. Photo: Jane Waggoner Deschner.

Crouched Run 

Gordon McConnell, Crouched Run, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20”. ©Gordon McConnell. Photo: Jane Waggoner Deschner. 

For media inquiries and more images contact Dr.Leanne Gilbertson, Director of Northcutt Steele Gallery, leanne.gilbertson@msubillings.edu; (406) 657-2903.