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By Gwendolyne Honrud
The Courier 

A Part Of Western Art

McIntyre Immortalized in Art Book


September 2, 2020

Gwendolyne Honrud / The Courier

Cathryn McIntyre discusses her art while author Toby Thompson looks on before reading excerpts from his book, Fired On: Targeting Western American Art. Thompson wrote extensively about McIntyre's (then-Reitler) art in the final chapter of his work.

One paints with oils, the other paints with words. The two artists of different mediums came together to share their work with the Glasgow community this past Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Wheatgrass Arts Gallery. The works of Cathryn McIntyre hung from the walls inside the gallery, viewable by invitation only, while the words of Toby Thompson danced through the air in the courtyard beside the Loaded Toad. The two colloborated in celebration of Thompson's book, Fired On: Targeting Western American Art, with its final chapter dedicated to McIntyre's work.

Local residents are quite familiar with McIntyre's art. Her depictions of western landscapes and wildlife grace many a walls in Valley County. Thompson first became acquainted with her work through a show held in his part-time home in Livingston, Mont. The art on display, part of the #MeToo: A Visual Dialogue show at the Green Door Gallery, was McIntyre's unique style featuring a far different subject matter. The paintings of nude women, on a canvas partially composed of their clothing, embroidered with quotes from the subjects themselves.

Thompson was struck by the contemporary nature of McIntyre's style and the subject matter. He is a self-described fan of art, not a critic, and has written extensively on western art. Saturday's reading and book signing was a chance for him to both share his passion and revisit northeastern Montana. Those who had not had a chance to peruse his book were treated to a reading in the pleasant evening weather outside, to better observe social distancing.

After McIntyre spoke to the assembled group about her work and her time with Thompson, he began his reading from the introduction to his "eclectic book," with an overview of the panoply of western art forms. He segued to his chapter on McIntyre and how he came to know her art in all its forms.

As Thompson wrote and read, "...the likelihood of artists thriving in this region's vastness seemed less and less likely." But in writing about McIntyre and her husband, Mitch, Thompson learned more and more of the artistic nature of the area. Mitch McIntyre is an artist in his own right and often collaborates with his wife.

Thompson's descriptions of his travels and experiences in northeastern Montana with the McIntyre family drew many knowing smiles and appreciative chuckles. He read, "Wearing short hair and a bushy goatee, Mitch collected me at the Rundle in a growling, four-person ATV. 'You okay with this?' he said. Then turned the side-by-side toward his ranch's acreage. A rocking rolling ride ensued as Mitch described the fields' cultivation, the damage flooding from the Milk River did each year, and how one spring he'd spend seventy-nine days calving, sleeping in his truck between deliveries."

The author spoke on C. McIntyre's art, covering the diversity of her portfolio, from the "Female Chauvinists" paintings displayed in Livingston, to her mixed-media work incorporating salvaged pieces from a variety of locales, including her parents' old house. Thompson wove McIntyre's fine arts education with her lived experience to guide the listeners to an understanding of the collection shown in Livingston, as well as her contemporary take on western art.

Thompson was pleased with the reception for his reading. "It was a lot of fun. You're never sure what to expect in a small town," he said. The mixed audience in attendance, friends and fans of McIntyre, family and art connoisseurs, impressed the author with their enthusiasm and sophistication.

"I've done a lot of readings," he explained. "There was a reading in Butte where only one little, old lady showed up." He went on to say, "You never know how many will show up for a book reading. I was very pleased when I saw the number of people who arrived." The courtyard was a "beautiful setting, a perfect place" he noted.

Thompson was also pleased from a business perspective, noting that he sold and signed a number of books. The monetary success seemed to be only a portion of the success of the evening. "Everybody I met was much more sophisticated and interesting than I thought," he mused, contrasting this reading with others he has held.

In fact, his time with McIntyre and her friends here has inspired Thompson to research another art form, tattooing, to see if there is a potential story there in terms of western art, perhaps a furtherance of his concept of the gentrification of the west."

Though he described the idea of the west and what it means as "gentrification that began with Lewis and Clark," it might also be a romanticization of western heritage that contributes to the success of art genre. Certainly, it was easy to find the romance in his writing of his time on the prairies of northeastern Montana.

That romance is a driving force in western art: love for the landscape, the heritage, the history. And love for western art and artists shone through in Thompson's reading.

(Author's note: in Fired On: Targeting Western American Art, author Toby Thompson writes about Cathryn Reitler, who has since married and changed her last name to McIntyre. This article refers to the artist by her current name.)


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