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The Graceful Envelope and The Landscapes of Thomas English 


The Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell, Montana is pleased to announce the opening of two outstanding new exhibitions: The Graceful Envelope, a Smithsonian traveling exhibition, and The Landscapes of Thomas English. An opening reception for these two new exhibits will be held June 3, 2004 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.At 5:00 pm that evening, artist Thomas English will give a pre-reception talk about the evolution of his work, followed by the opening reception, which will include calligraphy demonstrations by calligraphers of the Big Sky Scribes, Montana's calligraphers guild. (right: "Ode to O'Keeffe" by Kalispell artists Karen Leigh and Gini Ogle from The Graceful Envelope, a Smithsonian traveling exhibition)

The Graceful Envelope, a charming exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum, reveals that the art of the stamped and mailed envelope still exists, even with the emergence of e-mail, fax, and other methods of immediate written communication. The Graceful Envelope features award-winning artistic envelopes mailed to "The Graceful Envelope," care of National Postal Museum by calligraphers and artists to the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum's annual competition. The competition began in 1995 when the museum wished to mount an informal display of expert calligraphy for museum workshop participants to see. But what followed was altogether unexpected. The museum received more than 200 stunningly crafted envelopes from around the world. It was immediately apparent that the design and visual appeal of the envelopes was as important and engaging as the calligraphy. The remarkable assortment of artful covers inspired the museum to offer the program annually and, from each year's best, produce an art exhibition.

The Graceful Envelope includes 135 stamped, canceled, delivered, juried, and awarded works that are sure to draw interest from stamp enthusiasts and calligraphers alike. In their various styles and media, the envelopes range from colorfully contemporary to delicately old-fashioned, from whimsical and witty to poignant and sentimental. The stamp is often an integral aspect of the envelope's design, whether incorporated directly into the illustration or used simply to accent the artist's theme. The exhibit, on display through July 17, 2004 includes envelopes by Kalispell artists Gini Ogle and Karen Leigh, as well as envelopes by Montana artists Virginia L. Meltzer, Jody Reiner, Deborah Parsons Menke, Barbara A. Garfield, and Robert Clifton Morrison.

This exhibition will be accompanied by a special showing of a Charles M. Russell illustrated letter and envelope loaned from private collections. Russell, who has been called "the word painter," could have been called the father of the illustrated letter and envelope. In a letter dated 1919, he wrote in his eloquent style with his typical phonetic way of spelling, "Betwine the pen and the brush there is little difforence but I believe the man that makes word pictures is the greater."

In conjunction with The Graceful Envelope exhibition, Billings calligrapher Robert Morrison will offer a workshop entitled Pushing The Envelope - Calligraphy Beyond Pen & Ink. He will teach participants how to create new backgrounds and interesting letters using new and different colors and textures. Participants will experiment with tools and materials such as chalks, colored pencils, watercolors, markers, sponges, toothbrushes, yarns and strings to make illuminated initials, greeting cards, and other one-of-a-kind calligraphy pieces. The workshop will be held Friday and Saturday, June 4 and 5 from 9 am to 4 pm.

The Graceful Envelope is a National Postal Museum exhibition organized and circulated by SITES. The National Postal Museum receives both financial and material support from the United States Postal Service. The Smithsonian Institution gratefully acknowledges the Postal Service's continued support of its mission. The Graceful Envelope is sponsored locally by the Hockaday Museum of Art's Annual Fund Drive, Insty-Prints, and Ogle & Worm Law Offices.

Also opening on June 3 is an exhibition of The Landscapes of Thomas English, which will be on display though July 26, 2004. English, a Montana artist residing in Great Falls, is known for his masterful landscapes of Montana, particularly around Glacier National Park. He was chosen to participate in the Glacier National Park's artist in residence program for the past two years where he held outdoor demonstrations and drawing clinics for park visitors. Living in Montana and being surrounded by earth's natural wonders has given English the inspiration for his work. He paints vivid landscapes in rich hues, and through his plein air style, he is able to capture the very essence of the landscape and transfer it to canvas without losing the natural quality. There is nothing artificial about his work, it only speaks the truth about what he sees, and captures the pure beauty of nature.

English will teach a three day Plein Air Oil Painting Workshop on June 4, 5, and 6 from 9 am to 4 pm. He will offer demonstrations and instructional guidance, and participants will have the opportunity to paint two paintings per day, "on site" at some of the Flathead Valley's most picturesque locations. Artists with novice to intermediate skill levels are encouraged to attend.

Director's Highlight Tours, 20-minute tours given by Museum Director/Curator Linda Engh-Grady will be given Wednesday, June 9 and June 30 at 1 pm for The Graceful Envelope and Wednesday, June 23 and July 14 at 1 pm for The Landscapes of Thomas English. 

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