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State Award for Artists

by The Western News
| January 3, 2012 11:26 AM

Yaak Valley writer is recognized for Montana Arts Council

A Yaak valley artist has been named by the Montana Arts Council as winner of the 2011 Artist’s Innovation Award.

As winner of The Artist’s Innovation Award, RickBass will receive $3,000, made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Bass has been recognized for his prowess in poetry, prose, fiction, literary non-fiction, screenwriting.

“Bass is critically acclaimed for his compelling stories, well-crafted prose, unique narrative voice, and lyrical, sometimes haunting tales of human encounters with the endangered American wilderness,” states the release from The Montana Arts Council.

“Originally trained and employed as a wildlife biologist and then a geologist, I began my publishing career in the mid-1980s by writing hunting and fishing articles for sporting magazines,” Bass said.

“I’ve maintained this throughout my career and have served as contributing editor to Sports Afield, Field & Stream and Contemporary Sportsman.”

Review panels were selected in early December comprised of experts in the fields of visual arts, performing arts and literary arts to select the winners.

 This honor rewards Montana artists who demonstrate innovation in their work as well as originality and dedication in their creative pursuits. 

The Montana Arts Council established this award program to foster environments where the innovation and creativity of artists are valued and celebrated.

Winning artists who receive this cash award must also convey their artistry to other Montanans during the course of the upcoming year.

 Eleven artists across the state were awarded the honor this year by the Montana Arts Council.

In addition to Bass, they include Philip Aaberg of Chester, Angela Babby of Billings, Courtney Blazon of Missoula, Jill Foote-Hutton of Red Lodge, Tami Haaland of Billings, April Hale of Bozeman, Charles Nichols of Missoula, Kathryn Schmidt of Bozeman, Andy Smetanka of Missoula and Mark Sundeen of Missoula.

Bass is a short-story writer, novelist of fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, screenwriter and documentarian.

“There is perhaps no written form I have not attempted,” Bass said.

“It certainly might have made more career sense to focus on one or two genres and then working to make a name for myself in that one or possibly two genres, but I hate to imagine the creative pleasure I would have missed by limiting myself to such narrow constraints,” he said.

The review panel felt that Bass was an extremely productive artist whose work shows great breadth and depth, stretching through genres. They responded to him both as a prominent and inspirational writer.

 To share his work with other Montanans, Bass plans to give readings in a variety of genres in Missoula and around the state.