When Nancy Erickson died in February at the age of 86, she left behind decades of shelves and wallets filled with character designs and art materials, including fabrics, brushes, paints and Moreover.
She and her husband, Ron Erickson, lived in their Pattee Canyon home for 50 years, where she worked in a custom-designed studio with windows overlooking the hills. Once she spotted a cougar on the back.
On Saturday will be a sale of her figure drawings, made during sessions with her longtime group, the Pattee Canyon Ladies Salon, as well as materials she used for paintings and her large-scale fabric works of animals and figures that have been exhibited around Montana, in the United States and abroad.
It’s a fascinating way to look at an artist’s legacy in the room she worked in, said Leslie Van Stavern Millar, a longtime close friend and member of the show.
“That’s what she worked with and what she did,” Millar said.
Ron went through all the drawings from the years she produced, with Millar’s help, over the months.
They chose about 50-70 with Nancy in mind, wondering if she would approve if she saw a particular piece hanging in someone else’s living room. Larger designs will cost between $75 and $100, smaller ones between $25 and $35.
Looking at the works displayed on the wall, Ron said there was a visible consistency over time.
“It’s hard, for example, to look at a room and say, ‘Oh, this is from 1970, and this one here is from 2020,'” he said.
The sale will take place at 3250 Pattee Canyon Drive on Saturday, August 13, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The designs will be set up in the studio and the materials outside. Face coverings are mandatory inside. Parking is limited and people should carpool if they can.
Artists are “hardware-heavy” workers, Millar said. The studio shows it. It has shelves full of fabrics in all the colors and patterns that Nancy used in her fabric wall sculptures, as well as thread, a sewing machine, and more. (As they went through the tissues, they unearthed more of his diaries, which will be donated to the Mansfield Archives in the hope that a potential biographer can use them.)
There are studio furniture and storage shelves. Nancy photographed her own work with a camera that is now on sale: a Calumet 4 x 5 inch camera and a sturdy tripod. Ron said they are selling a selection of the many books they have collected over the years, including volumes on individual artists and museum catalogs.
The studio is where, since 1989, Erickson has met twice a month for figure drawing sessions with the Pattee Canyon Ladies Salon, a group that has met continuously for decades. She was the founder and “anonymous leader”.
Millar said working regularly from the figure was fundamental to Erickson’s practice, as well as a sense of community and friendship. It never involved formal reviews or expectations that a play might end up in public broadcast.
Drawing in this way is an opportunity to put aside any kind of photographic reference and “look at a human body in real time, with light and shadow”, and a variety of body types depending on the model, she said. declared.
Erickson was known for her drawings, paintings, and quilted works, often of animals and humans, and often with a message of concern for society’s effects on the environment. She worked in fabric art from the 70s, when it was less widely accepted. Over time, her work was shown not only in museums, it was celebrated in the world of quilting and textiles. She has participated in more than 500 shows during her career.
Among his innovations were free-form cutouts of figures that departed from the traditional square shape. Looking at a selection of smaller designs on the wall, Ron counted three that became large-scale textile works.
Fans of his animal and fabric works take note: this sale is focused on character designs, not major works. There are a small handful of bears in the room, including one that shows off the animal’s bone structure, reflecting its original field of study, zoology.
Proceeds will go to the Montana Museum of Art and Culture and the Missoula Art Museum – Nancy Erickson donated a selection of her works to the latter’s permanent collection several years ago.
Later this fall, many events will mark his legacy. The MMAC opens a dedicated exhibition at the Ladies Salon on October 14. They worked on a catalog and an accompanying symposium.
Simultaneously, his longtime local exhibition space, Gallery 709 at Montana Art and Framing, will feature a selection of his work.