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"Gallatin Buffalo" 2014, 54 x 60, Oil on Canvas. Acquired in 2014 by the National Museum for Wildlife Art, Jackson, WY




Theodore Waddell 

Billings, MT – At its annual members’ meeting on Thursday, July 16, 2015, the President of the Yellowstone Art Museum’s Board of Trustees was pleased to bestow the annual Awards for Service to the Arts.  Given out since 2001, these awards recognize outstanding service from philanthropists, artists, volunteers, and educators to the YAM and the art community.  In most cases, awardees have given prominent support over a number of years. 

Artist of the Year Theodore Waddell was recognized for his achievement as one of the state’s leading artists and his generosity toward the YAM’s permanent collection and exhibitions.


Theodore Waddell Selected for Montana Arts Council's 2015 Governor's Arts Award


The Montana Arts Council has announced that Theodore Waddell has been chosen as one of five exceptionally talented and accomplished artists and arts organizations to receive the 2015 Governor’s Arts Award. The Governor's Arts Award honors outstanding citizens and organizations in Montana whose achievements in the arts, or on behalf of the arts, benefit all Montanans.

Gov. Steve Bullock will preside over the ceremony in the Capitol’s Old Supreme Court Chambers. “Montana has a rich history of artists who have told the story of our state through music, sculpture, painting, writing and performances,” Bullock said. “It’s my honor to recognize these artists and institutions that build on our heritage and share their passion with the next generation of Montanans.”

Artist Theodore Waddell exemplifies the phrase ‘Montana painter,’” writes nominator Robyn Peterson, executive director of the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, who believes he “has done more than any other living painter to develop a distinctive Montana-based vision that brings Modernism into the 21st century.”

The artist was born in 1941 in Billings, and raised in Laurel. He studied with Isabelle Johnson, Montana's first modernist painter, before earning a scholarship to study at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. He received his MFA from Wayne State University.

Waddell's sophisticated modernist paintings have attracted widespread recognition. “As a working rancher, he knows whereof he paints,” writes Peterson. “There is no distance from, or fleeting relationship with, his subject … he knows it.”

He also creates sculpture, and according to Peterson, “it’s this body of work that’s more apt to reveal humor, irony, and social critique.”

His work is included in the permanent collections of the Denver Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Booth Museum of Western Art, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and the National Museum of Wildlife Art, among others. Recent solo exhibitions have included the Albany Museum in Georgia, Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum, ID, Altamira Fine Art in Jackson, WY, Visions West Gallery in Bozeman, and the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho in Idaho Falls.

“His work is painterly and masterful, and the zeal with which it is snapped up by collectors nationwide is testimony to the maturity of his vision and the quality of the work.”  He’s also generous to, and supportive of, younger generations of artists, and has been an avid collector of others’ work, much of which he has donated to the state’s public collections. writes Peterson.

“Few artists have done as much to align this place – Montana – with incisive and original art and with the larger art world,” notes Peterson. His success has helped build “the growing reputation Montana has as fertile ground for artists.”