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Fundraiser continues in memory of artist

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When Dave Samuelson died Oct. 3 after a decade-long struggle with prostate cancer, his wife, Trudy, lost her husband of 55 years and the Mission Valley lost one of its best-known artists. 

“A big part of my life has a hole in it,” said Trudy last week as she prepared for holiday festivities with her family. 

In honor of her husband, she has organized the Dave Samuelson Memorial Art Drive and is collecting art supplies through Jan. 5 at her business, Mission Valley Properties at 101 Mountain View Dr., St. Ignatius. Contributions, including crayons, markers, acrylic and watercolor paints, will be donated to schools in St. Ignatius and Charlo, as well as the Boys and Girls Club.  

The couple moved to the Mission Valley in 1993 and built an art studio and log cabin at the base of the Mission Mountains. Among his many honors, Samuelson was named the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Artist of the Year and Quarter many times over. He was named the National Congressional Sportsman Foundation’s Artist of the Year in 2001. 

His painting, “A Tree Grows in Yellowstone,” was purchased for the National Park Service’s permanent collection, which earned him a spot in the Top 100 for the Art for the Parks competition. In 1988, one of his paintings was chosen for the Montana Duck Stamp, and a year later the Northern Region U.S. Forest Service presented him with its partnership award.

According to his family, commissions and collaborations with organizations that sought to ensure a future for wildlife and wild lands were always near and dear to his heart. Over the years, his efforts raised thousands of dollars for wildlife conservation. 

“He was very generous with his art,” Trudy said. “Lots of people appreciated it and got to enjoy it and it helped raise funds for wildlife programs that benefit wildlife and people.” 

Close to home, The Owl Research Institute in Charlo is the beneficiary of proceeds from the sale of his “Windows to the Soul,” a limited edition print that pairs an Arctic wolf and snowy owl. The meticulously detailed original was part of Kindred Spirit, a seven-painting series that explored relationships between animals and the habitats they share, both geographically and visually. Proceeds from the sale of the remaining signed prints fund snowy owl research in the Alaskan Arctic (learn more at owl

He also donated prints regularly to the local Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever chapters, the International Bear Foundation and the Mule Deer Foundation. He was a featured artist at the Carousel for Missoula auction, the Gallery Association for Greater Art, and the University of Montana Cowboy Ball. He also created the Griz/Bobcat trophy, the Great Divide, depicting a grizzly and bobcat clawing for a football over the Continental Divide, which continues to travel between the two rival schools.

Samuelson honed his remarkable ability to capture animals in their natural environment with regular trips into the Bob Marshall Wilderness with iconic packer Jack Hooker. He passed his passion for hunting on to his grandson, Wills, during their annual hunting expeditions to the Big Hole Valley. 

“He just had an eye for that stuff and a generous spirit,” says Trudy. 

For more information on the art drive, call 406-745-4940.


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