Article by Brad Reynolds
Monte Dolack’s art is not easily summarized. He’s been defined as both a modernist and a postmodernist. Some of his artworks are realistic while others are surreal. There are the commercial works—movie and music posters—that he began his career with. There are the experimental works that come with experience and age. His art is “local,” yes, but it’s also been exhibited around the world (including a 2011 showing at the Palace of Nations in Geneva). To label Dolack with an adjective or two entirely understates the scope of his work, but if his art had to be described with one word and one word only, perhaps the best choice would be “fun.”
Filmmaker Annick Smith once described Dolack thusly:
“[His artworks are] a fairytale version of [an] actual place. His whimsical eye informs both our urban and rural stories, adding color, form, and sharp lines to the obscure and chaotic vistas of real life. He’s a myth-maker, which is why he is Montana’s most popular contemporary artist.”
Dolack’s art explores various concepts, from the dichotomy of man and nature to the mysteries of our modern world. He regularly draws upon personal experiences, history, and myth—and, of course, his love of Montana.
This issue’s cover represents all four.
“Saucers Over the Big Stack” evokes the Mariana Incident, a 1950 UFO sighting and one of the first ever caught on film. The video was taken by Nick Mariana, the general manager of the Great Falls Electrics (baseball team), who ran to retrieve his 16mm camera when he noticed two strange silvery objects in the sky. The UFOs traveled north from the baseball stadium, across the Missouri and above Black Eagle, where the town’s iconic smelter stack then stood.
While in college, Dolack worked summers at the smelter, and it was his father’s life-long career.
“The Big Stack dominated our landscape when I was growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s,” Dolack explains. “There were a number of UFO sightings there. This painting is a surrealistic take on going out to observe UFOs.”
Dolack loves stories. His artwork makes it evident that he admires storytellers and has a penchant for storytelling himself.
All are invited to experience Monte Dolack at the Montana Museum of Art and Culture, in an exhibition opening on January 17, 2020. (The Montana Museum of Art and Culture is located in the Performing Arts and Radio Center on the University of Montana campus.)
In May 2020, a 200-page book of Dolack’s work is to be published. The title is Vision, Myth & Mystery: The Art of Monte Dolack.
For more information, visit dolack.com.