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Our Land Will Last Forever

6/16/16

Shea Stanfield
Arts Columnist

“Our land will last forever. It will not perish by the flames of fire, as long as the sun shines and the waters flow this land will be here to give life to the people and animals,” Crowfoot, Blackfeet. We only know landscapes of the Old West today through the paintings, sculptures, and stories of those who have come before. Hart Merriam Schultz, known as Lone Wolf, provides us the gift of hindsight in images and figures of a West that has passed through the dust of time into our dreams and imaginations.

Born in 1883, “near the close of buffalo days” on the Blackfeet Reservation of Montana, Lone Wolf was said to be one of the more colorful personalities of the Old West traversing both worlds of “white man’s” culture and his Native American roots. Lone Wolf was the son of James W. Schultz, a well-known author of the time, and Fine Shield Woman, a member of the Blackfeet tribe. Lone Wolf, as a young boy, began capturing his environment and experiences by sketching on buckskin and sculpting with his grandfather, who taught him to mold riverbank clay into animals. Lone Wolf was also educated in Indian schools, where he continued to draw, paint, and sculpt. As a teen, he worked on his mother’s ranch as a wrangler, where he would entertain the other cowboys with his sketches of their daily life and activities.

In 1903, at age 20, Lone Wolf left the reservation after the death of his mother to live with his father on the West Coast. During this time, he completed his first set of watercolor on Indian subjects. He also began traveling to Arizona and New Mexico for the winters to expand his experience and inspiration for his art. In 1909, while working the Grand Canyon as a wrangler and a guide, Lone Wolf met Thomas Moran, which proved to be a turning point in the young artist’s career. Moran agreed to give Lone Wolf painting lessons and encouraged him to become a professional artist. Following his mentor’s advice, Lone Wolf returned to Los Angeles in 1910 to begin his formal art training at the Los Angeles Art Students League, which led him to Chicago to study at the Art Institute in 1914-1915.  During these years, Lone Wolf also illustrated his father’s books, gaining notoriety for his illustration and commercial art skills, in addition to fine art painting and sculpting of western scenes.

Lone Wolf had his first one-man show in Los Angeles in 1917. His work drew notice across the country. His client list included the names of President Theodore Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill Cody, Charles Russell, Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, President Herbert Hoover, and the Santa Fe Railroad as they expanded across the West. He enjoyed the support of noted artists of the time in Thomas Moran, Charles Russell, and Frederic Remington. Lone Wolf often joined his father, in the summers, on hunting trips at their cabin, Butterfly Lodge, in Greer, Arizona.  His father would eventually gift the Butterfly Lodge to Lone Wolf and his wife Naomah where they set up a winter/spring studio. During the summers, he and Naomah would travel to St. Mary’s Lake at Glacier National Park, where years earlier his father had worked as a trapper and outfitter, now Lone Wolf would work in his studio set up in a tepee.

Lone Wolf would eventually establish residence at his winter studio La Osa Ranch in Tucson, Arizona. He often participated in the opening of Tucson’s annual rodeo parade “La Fiesta de los Vaqueros” suited out in the beaded chieftains handed down to him from his Blackfeet ancestors. Hart M. Schultz passed away in Tucson in 1970; his ashes are buried in Montana in the grave of his Blackfeet uncle, Last Rider.

Lone Wolf left over 500 pieces of art documenting a time in the American West that is now part of our collective memory and history. Scottsdale’s Museum of the West provides a rare opportunity to view a collection of Lone Wolf’s work in an exhibit that opened June 21, 2016 and is running through August 31, 2016. For more information on exhibit hours and associated events, call (480) 686-9539 or visit the Museum’s Web site, www.scottsdalemuseumwest.org.

Contact arts columnist Shea Stanfield on flowingquill@yahoo.com.