Ben Pease

Recent Posts

Stapleton exhibit a stunning mix of old and new

Red Star

If I were to assess “Crow Now,” a collection on display at the Stapleton Gallery, based solely on its aesthetic impact, it would already be one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. But in this case, there is so much more of a story to tell. A story that goes back more than a century. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Joseph Medicine Crow, last of the war chiefs, dies at 102

Medicine Crow

Joseph Medicine Crow, the great Crow Indian historian, author and war hero, often called the last living Plains Indian war chief, reportedly died this morning at the age of 102. His death was reported on the Facebook page of Ben Pease, the artist whose portrait of Medicine Crow is above. In a private message, Pease said Medicine Crow “passed to the ‘Other Side Camp’ Sunday morning.” Among his many honors, Medicine Crow was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian honor—by President Obama in 2009. In Billings, the District 2 School Board voted last year to name a new middle school in the Heights—the first public school built in Billings in 30-some years—after Medicine Crow. Continue Reading →

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More attention for a worthy artist


I’ve been meaning to post this since Friday, when the Billings Gazette featured Ben Pease in a story about the Yellowstone Art Museum’s annual auction. I wanted to draw readers’ attention to a story I wrote about Ben in the earliest days of Last Best News. We had a lot fewer readers then, naturally, so I wanted to give current readers a chance to catch up. I also wrote a short blog item about how I stumbled onto Ben’s great work at the Montana Folk Festival in Butte and just knew I had to write a story about him. As a bonus, the story contains some fine John Warner photographs. Continue Reading →

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Backstory: Folk festival find

At the Montana Folk Festival in Butte last summer, I stumbled on the works of Ben Pease at the festival’s First Peoples Market. I’d been to at least a portion of the three National Folk Festivals when they were in Butte, and I’ve made two of the three since they became the Montana Folk Festival, which is without question the event of the summer in this state. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Ben Pease, paintbrush storyteller

Ben Pease says “Last Good Man,” his many-layered portrait of Crow Chief Plenty Coups, is his signature piece. It is the richest expression of a style of painting he calls “American Indian Narrative,” in which a portrait sits in the midst of other images, other media, other forms of storytelling. Pease himself has a chief-like bearing. He is tall and solidly built, like the college football player he once was, but at the age of 24 he carries himself with a calm gracefulness, and his habitual smile can be disarming. His portrait of Plenty Coups is on display at Mr. A’s Fine Art Gallery in Hardin, along with other of his works. Continue Reading →

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