Keeping History Alive with CMR and Aspinwall

C.M. Russell Shirts at Aspinwall Mountain Wear

154 years ago a boy was born in St. Louis, Missouri.  Little did his parents realize that he would become an icon of Montana and western culture.  What started out as a hobby turned into a full time profession.  Now, 82 years after his death, Charles Russell remains a part of Montana heritage.  Something you can celebrate with an Aspinwall CMR shirt.

Life as a Cowboy

Mountain Wear Montana Tshirts from AspinwallAt the age of 16 Charles moved to Montana.  His goal was to pursue the cowboy lifestyle.  For a number of years he worked for a variety of ranches, hunters, and trappers.  He settled into the Judith Basin area where he would find employment with ranches that needed his help.  It was during the down time where he would exercise his artistic talents, and a fortuitous circumstance during the harsh winter of 1886-1887 led to him being recognized as an artist.

This particular winter was tough on people, but even tougher on cattle.  With snow covering the ground, there wasn’t much for the cows to eat, and they began to starve.  The ranch owner wrote asking the status of the herd, and how it was weathering winter.  Instead of a letter in response, Charles painted a postcard size watercolor of an emaciated steer being threatened by wolves.  This painting, which CM re-created in more detail, was later named “Waiting for a Chinook”.  It was hung in a Helena area shop and helped the budding artist surge to popularity.

Waiting for a Chinook
Source: www.charlesmarionrussell.org

Life as an Artist

Charles spent a year living among the Blood Indians learning the culture and the ways of the west.  After returning to the Judith Basin he found that it was too populated for his taste, and he moved to Great Falls.  He forged ahead in an attempt to make a living as an artist.

He was married in 1896.  His wife, Nancy, helped him to market his art, and he focused on what he was best at.  It was her work that helped him become internationally famous as he created well over 2,000 pieces of artwork during his lifetime.

The Legacy Lives on at C.M. Russell Museum

Today, Great Falls is home to the C.M. Russell Museum.  This museum that is solely dedicated to the life and art of this iconic Montana artist holds hundreds of his paintings, his personal effects, and artifacts associated with CMR as a person.

It is at the museum where you can learn even more details of about the life and times of Charles Marion Russell.  View the different stages of his art, explore the area where he called home, and understand what life in Montana was like 100 years ago.

CMR Tshirt from Aspinwall
A large CM Russell painting displayed behind the speaker’s chair in the Montana House of Representatives. Charles Marion Russell [Public domain from Wikimedia Commons]

Like many arts and cultural centers, the museum is a non-profit.  It relies on attendance, donations, volunteers, and other methods to continue to offer immersion in the life of CMR.  And that’s where Aspinwall, and you, can help!  Aspinwall Mountain Wear has a unique partnership with the center to help showcase CMR and raise funds.

When you buy a CMR shirt, with the iconic bison skull logo, you help in a host of different ways.  First, you’re wearing a shirt that has been upcycled and you’re minimizing clothing waste.  Second, a portion of each shirt sale is donated to the museum to help them keep the doors open.  Third, every time you wear the shirt, people will see it and you can help raise awareness about this amazing cultural resource we have right here in Montana.

Get your CMR Shirt today, available in Men’s and Women’s.