Helen of Many Glacier Hotel
Derived from a photo from the George Grantham Bain Collection
24″ X 24″
A young, indigenous maiden, Helen, captured in this scene, operated the telephone switchboard of the Many Glacier Hotel on the 26th of June 1925. The George Grantham Bain Collection represents the photographic files of one of America’s earliest news picture agencies and captured a wide range of scenes from the period. Vintage News Daily writes of the photograph that, “At the time, park concessionaires often required their Blackfeet employees–including bus drivers and telephone operators—to dress in ‘traditional’ clothing to appeal to eastern tourists.”
Crystal Oftedahl Johnson grew up in the Flathead Valley, in a family that spent a lot of time working and playing together outdoors. While gaining an appreciation for craftsmanship and quality in various manual skills at a young age, she didn’t try painting until college.
At age 19, she began studying art at Brigham Young University – Idaho under the instruction of wildlife artist Leon Parson, illustrator Wade Huntsman, and many other great teachers. Crystal especially enjoys painting from life (outdoors, on-site) and whenever possible uses life studies as references for her studio paintings. Her strongest artistic influences include the American Illustrators of the Golden Age, and Russian Impressionist Painters. Crystal and her husband live in Montana with three young kids.
“For me, painting is a wonderful way to communicate; while allowing the artist to share an idea, it also leaves room for the viewer to decide what they think, or how they feel about that idea. I think art is a constant effort to find a balance between truth (what it really looked like, or what really happened) and beauty (enhancing the subject to convey how I feel about what I saw, of what happened). I love knowing and sharing what really happened, but am always trying to learn better ways to convey a feeling about the subject. I’m excited to know there’s infinitely more to learn about visual communication than I’ll ever discover in my lifetime.” – Crystal Oftedahl Johnson