‘Helena’ Category


An Invite From CRAG

24 P Linda Sliding 4Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas — I was invited to speak at the September 24 meeting of the Caddo River Art Guild (CRAG), an avid group whose mission is promoting art and artists in south central Arkansas, http://caddoriverartguild.com/.  My mission of course is capital cities, so I talked about “art in the capital cities,” that is, the community’s support of the arts. How Art Thrives was my topic, leading with the question: What does it take to have a thriving arts community?

It takes four things, I proposed, to nods of agreement from around the room:

• Money
• Artists
• Volunteers
• Attitude

I selected five uniquely different cities to illustrate:
Santa Fe, New Mexico, Population 67, 947 (about 6 Arkadelphias) because it supports and focuses on the artist more than any other capital city.

Montpelier, Vermont, Population 7,855 (about 3/4 of 1 Arkadelphia!) because it’s the smallest capital city and has the 2nd most artists per capita and the biggest group of volunteers.

And Helena, Montana, Population 28,190 (about 3 Arkadelphias), Lincoln, Nebraska, Population 258,379 (about 24 Arkadelphias), and Indianapolis, Indiana, Population 820,444 (about 77 Arkadelphias) to show it’s not the size of the city that matters, it’s the attitude of its residents. » read more


A Joyce Kilmer Angst

04 iciclesLinda Burton Posting From Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Joyce Kilmer loved trees, and so do I. Remember that line “I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a tree…”? I’ve been worrying about my trees way too much of late, at complete odds with Mother Nature. She might as well have been an axman, sending all those February ice storms and breaking limbs all over town. What the ice didn’t get, the power company finished, whacking away every straggling branch that dared come anywhere near a power line and forevermore ruining the shape of every hackberry and pine tree that was unfortunate enough to get planted along the Entergy right of way.

I started back in January trying to clear off those choking “exotics” (meaning, non-native plants that will take over a yard if you aren’t careful) that some quick-grow gardener planted long ago. Turn the house into a rental and neglect the yard for a few years and you’ve got a mess on your hands. A mess of privet hedge ten feet tall and as scraggly as a witch’s hideaway, wrapped with wisteria vines that would support both Tarzan and Jane, all underpinned with sneaky English ivy, which is strong enough to grow right through a windowsill. It just wedges 01 Clearing Brushitself through the tiniest crack! You know what I mean. Back down in the ravine, a totally wild and woolly spot at the end of 9th Street, the wisteria has shimmied its way to the top of 60-foot oaks, with no plans to stop twisting and vining and taking over the world.

But not in my yard! Not with White’s Manicured Lawns in town. Quincy White and his brother Dante have chain saws and other devices designed to “stop the madness” and after a few hours in January managed to get a ten-foot area all around the house cleared away. After the February ice storms, their work tripled, this time sawing downed limbs and making huge stacks out front for the city pickup.

My greatest fear during the ice storm was for the giant camellia at the side of the house. » read more


On Watch

Linda Burton posting from Helena, Montana – The brisk hot wind had the flags at the State Capitol furled out full today, and Montana, the 17-foot statue atop the handsome copper dome, stood watch. From below, it’s hard to see the liberty cap Montana wears but we know it represents freedom. The literature tells us she holds three symbolic items – a shield for the United States, a laurel wreath for victory, and a torch to light the way. Governor Brian Schweitzer introduces the Capitol as the People’s House in the Montana Historical Society publication that is handed out to one and all; he calls it “a readily recognizable icon of democracy.” And the people come; to gather in solidarity or opposition, to speak their mind, to celebrate, or just to see. Washington DC-based Concerned Women for America (CWA) made a bus stop at the Capitol today, urging women of faith to register and vote in the 2012 elections. Inside, a Missoula group called the Blue Skies Campaign continued their week-long sit-in opposing coal development in eastern Montana. At the Visitor’s Desk a couple from Germany inquired about the significance of the Capitol’s copper dome; another couple stopped for directions to “the famous Russell painting.” I headed for the rotunda. » read more


A Ton of Bricks

Linda Burton posting from Helena, Montana – If you’re going to lock your keys in your car you couldn’t choose a better place than “The Bray.” I heard about the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts the first day I arrived in Helena. Now (after that door-slam when you instantly realize your keys are still on the car seat) I’m sitting on the steps of their office waiting for AAA to arrive with the unlocking thing-a-majig. I’ve got one eye on the Scion and the other on an interesting circular structure just off to my right. The little brown brochure with a map of the place tells me it’s the Potter’s Shrine, built to reflect construction techniques used in the original buildings and to honor past and present ceramic artists at The Bray. It’s dedicated to Archie Bray, whose vision “gave birth to the Foundation” and it contains a bust of the man, sculpted by Rudy Autio in 1952. I started walking down the gravel drive and saw an array of brick buildings and chimneys and artworks scattered around this site that once was a brick factory, according to the brochure. A brick factory? A Foundation supporting ceramic artists? A man named Archie Bray? How did it all come together? » read more


Now and Then


Linda Burton posting from Helena, Montana – You can’t throw a rock around here without hitting something named Lewis and Clark. Helena is the county seat of Lewis and Clark County; the Lewis and Clark National Forest is all around. It’s no wonder their names are everywhere, because Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had quite an impact on this part of the country. And this part of the country had an impact on them, as we can read in their journals. We have the Missouri River to thank for their visit; one might say that in travel and exploration, mountains are walls and rivers are the roads through them. The Missouri River road brought Lewis and Clark (and Sacajawea) here; between July 16, 1805 and July 24 to be exact; their Journal entries tell us what they saw, what they did, and how they felt about it all. Lewis writes that they killed a buffalo near the river on July 16, and dined on it for breakfast. On the 17th he notes the sunflowers blooming abundantly in the river bottom. The next day he writes of his eagerness to meet up with the Shoshone as he hopes to get information from them. But it’s the entry of July 19 that stirs excitement for me today, as I head for the “gates of the mountains,” to see what Captain Lewis described in his journal. » read more


Red Flag Flying

Linda Burton posting from Helena, Montana – I finally put two and two together this morning. My eyes had been burning like crazy for several days; no amount of eye drops seemed to help. Was I spending too much time staring at the computer screen? I’d had a nagging little night cough too; it seemed to begin when I opened the window for some fresh air as I went to bed. But come to think of it, I hadn’t been able to see the Sleeping Giant mountain for several days; the valley was covered in haze. Maybe the air wasn’t so fresh, after all. On my way to breakfast, I stopped at the front desk and asked. “Yes, there’s a forest fire burning to the north,” she confirmed. “All that smoke in the valley is bad for a person’s allergies.” Allergies, and eyes, I thought. Back in my room, I closed my window and sat down with my coffee to find what I could about forest fires in Montana. The InciWeb Incident Information System at the Montana State Travel Site quickly brought me up to date. http://visitmt.com/fire/conditions.htm  » read more


Talent Is

Linda Burton posting from Helena, Montana – “To have talent is no credit to its owner,” Charlie Russell said in 1925. “What man can’t help he should get neither credit nor blame for.” Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926) moved to Montana when he was sixteen, seeking the life of a cowboy. It wasn’t his talent, however; he was fired from his sheep-ranching job in just a few months. He followed Jake Hoover for a while, hunting and trapping; then hired on as a wrangler at a cattle ranch near Missoula. He was finally living the cowboy life, going on cattle drives; he continued this for seven years. He also spent a year with the Blackfoot Indians, learning their ceremonies, hunting methods, and tribal legends. He sketched and drew these things he experienced during a time of Montana’s vanishing frontier – the 1880’s and 1890’s. And Charlie Russell found his talent. He created more than 4,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures in his lifetime, becoming one of the world’s best-known and most authentic western artists. Today his statue represents Montana in Statuary Hall in Washington, DC. As I read the story of this remarkable man, I see two significant marking points – in 1886 and in 1896 – when the talent he was so modest about began to be recognized. » read more



Linda Burton posting from Helena, Montana – “We’re headed for Glacier but we don’t expect to do much hiking there,” said the mom of the group. I was chatting with a family of four in the breakfast room; a mom and dad and two grown-up daughters enthusiastic about their holiday. One of the daughters spoke up then. “It’s the grizzlies; we’ve heard they are everywhere.” The other daughter chimed in too. “We saw three on the drive from Colorado. One was eating a deer carcass by the side of the road. He was huge.” I wished them a safe trip and headed upstairs to my computer. Are there in fact a lot of grizzly bears in this part of the country? According to Montana Fish and Wildlife, the grizzly bear, Ursus arctos horribilis, occupies over 6 million acres in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) of western Montana, notably Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness; the NCDE is believed to have the largest population of grizzlies in the lower 48 states. » read more


Life With Brian

Linda Burton posting from Helena, Montana – “On your left you’ll see two deer in the yard,” said Brian, as our tour train rounded the corner two blocks from the capitol. I thought he was joking, pointing to a yard with fake deer for effect. But one of the deer moved its head. Everyone scrambled left, cameras clicking. It was deer, all right; two deer sitting by the hedge on the lawn of an ordinary yard in this downtown residential area. One a speckled fawn? Too cute! “Some people put flower guards out to protect their tulips from being eaten by the deer,” Brian continued, as we rounded yet another corner to stop before the governor’s home. Brian pointed out the designs in the glass door, and then around another corner we went, waving at the neighbors in their yards. It was a sunny morning, and the Last Chance Tour Train was packed; half of us tourists and half locals who wanted to show off their town in the sweetest way possible – on a tweetsie little train driven by a history teacher in an engineer’s hat, delivering interesting facts with a sometimes humorous twist. » read more


Going Wild

Linda Burton posting from Helena, Montana – Montana is big. 94,109,542 acres big, to be precise. It is a state of riches, overflowing with nature’s generosity. And since the passage of the Wilderness Protection Act of 1964, signed into law by Lyndon Johnson, 3,443,038 acres of that land (about 3.7%) have become designated wilderness areas. Enthralled by the landscape around me, I’m getting information from the Montana Wilderness Association (MWA). Headquartered in Helena, the organization was founded in 1958 by Ken and Florence Baldwin; it was the nation’s first state organization concerned with wilderness preservation and the management of public lands. This nonprofit’s mission is “to protect Montana’s wilderness heritage, quiet beauty and outdoor traditions, now and for future generations.” The ensuing years have seen coalitions and controversies, lawsuits and victories. In 1964 some of Montana’s best-known wilderness areas were designated – Bob Marshall, Cabinet Mountains, Gates of the Mountains, Selway-Bitterroot, and Anaconda-Pintler. By 1978 the Lincoln-Scapegoat, Great Bear, Rattlesnake, Absaroka-Beartooth, Mission Mountains, Welcome Creek, UL Bend, Medicine Lake, and Red Rock Lakes areas were added; more campaigns continue. » read more