Shadows of the Past auction

Leslie Kesler’s “Big and Wide and Rolling” acrylic painting is one of many fine pieces in this year’s Shadows of the Past art auction

The 30th annual Shadows of the Past art auction is set to take place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 13 and 14, at the Choteau Pavilion and in the City Park. Proceeds are dedicated to supporting the Benefis Teton Medical Center Foundation.

The name “Shadows of the Past” accurately reflects the theme shared among most of the artwork exhibited there: a love for the natural history and beauty of the area. Most of the artwork features landscapes, animals and historical places and people that make Montana special. But at one point in the auction’s 30-year history, the name “Shadows of the Past” had an even stronger link to local history, as the auction was set to benefit Choteau’s Old Trail Museum.

The moniker was coined by artist Elmer Schock, who was a member of the auction’s founding committee, and has been involved with the auction ever since. For 29 of the 30 years of this fundraiser, Schock has had at least one of his art pieces auctioned off for the benefit.

In the early 1990s, Shadows of the Past helped defray costs of operating the Old Trail Museum. As can be seen today, art and history in Choteau have always had a close connection. The art auction helped the museum move the Jesse Gleason Art Studio to the Teton Trail Village, and then helped the museum to buy that village.

Over the years, OTM added more artists to the lineup, changed the date to September (to separate the auction from the Choteau Jaycees’ “Art in the Park” event) and changed the “quick draw” event to a “quick finish” event. After that, the format remained relatively unchanged until 2006, when OTM decided to hand the reins of the fundraiser over to the Teton Medical Center Foundation.

Since then, the BTMC Foundation has used the proceeds to benefit a wide variety of different projects around the medical facility. An X-ray table was replaced, and then the kitchen exhaust system. An electronic system for health records was installed and started up, and a CT scanner added. In 2016 and 2017, the Foundation used the money to renovate the dining room and solarium in the hospital’s extended care wing. Lat year saw new tub room fixtures to give the room a more spa-like, relaxing atmosphere, and new recliners in hospital rooms. This year, the foundation’s project is to replace the walk-in freezer and cooler in BTMC’s dietary department.

Auction events start on Friday at 5:30 p.m. with an art preview/open house in the Choteau Pavilion and an evening with the artists in the City Park. There will be a light meal of barbecued brisket and refreshments served in the park and music by Rich Clough and the Loose Mules.

On Saturday the doors of the Pavilion will open at 4 p.m. for the silent auction and drinks. Guests will help themselves to hors d’oeuvres beginning at 4:30 p.m. and the hour-long “quick draw” event will begin at 4:45. At 5:45 p.m. pieces in the quick draw event and the “plein air” event (a new feature added just last year in which the artists leave their studio behind and paint on location) will be auctioned off. The final event of the night is the live auction, which will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets to attend the event are $40 each. Contact Annie Olson at 466-6039 to purchase tickets in advance or for more information.