Tainted Revelations: The Art of Bill Ohrmann
Joe Ashbrook Nickell,
140 pages, hardcover:
Missoula Art Museum
In Tainted Revelations: The Art of Bill Ohrmann, author Joe Ashbrook Nickell provides a glimpse into the psyche of a 95-year-old artist still grappling with his place in the world. Tension is palpable in the oeuvre of this Montana cattleman turned painter and sculptor, whose work portrays both riotous natural beauty and horrific destruction. Ohrmann's unease is particularly apparent in his paintings: In swirling brushstrokes that recall Van Gogh, he depicts centuries of violence against the land and its people, from conquistadors decapitating Indians to Western settlers exterminating bison to modern developers stripping forests bare. The irony is often as thick as the paint. One canvas, titled The Harvest (Paul Bunyan), shows the iconic lumberjack striding through a clear-cut as wildlife scatters in his wake. Tainted Revelations is a journey through a landscape darkened by environmental guilt; it's not necessarily a pleasant trip, but it's always compelling.