Earlier this week I rode a bus with my sons up to the state capital for a Rally for Public Lands. Over 1000 protesters filled the capital rotunda to advocate for the protection of public lands in Montana and across the the country.
Sadly, on the first day of the new congress, the U.S. House voted to ease restrictions on the transfer of public lands to the states or private interests. Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has also introduced a bill to transfer ownership 3.3 million acres of federal land, including 100,000 acres in Montana. It is a solution in search of a problem, a giveaway that is an assault on our democratic values and a stain on the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt.
As an artist, hiker, climber, mountain biker, skier, hunter, and most importantly, as the father of three adventurous boys, I will fight for our Public Lands. The Wild runs through our veins. It is not only the lifeblood of my art, it knits the generations together. I think of my father teaching my son to fish, or climbing a massive granite cliff with my son deep in the wilderness, or just roasting marshmallows in the campfire with my family at a forest service campground. These outings have connected us to each other, deepened our trust in each other, and reminded us the value of beauty. Public Land is a generational gift. As my youngest boy stated, “without public land there’s no point to living in Montana.”
But, as this blog is about art, let’s look at some paintings. Every one of these paintings has its origins in Public Land, some were painted at the edge of a campground, while others were painted deep in the heart of the wilderness. They are but a fraction of the work that I have done on National Forest Land, BLM, National Parks, and National Monuments. Behind each painting is an experience that has refined me, not only as an artist, but as a person. I hope they will remind you of your own experiences in the wild, and of the shared value of Public Land. I ask you, as citizens and as fellow humans to advocate for the protection of these lands. Our land is not for sale at any price!