Robert Scriver

(1914 - 1999)


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Robert Scriver

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A sculptor who carried on the realistic, storytelling tradition of Frederic Remington and Charles Russell

Bob Scriver was born in 1914 in the Blackfeet Reservation town of Browning in Montana, where he spent most of his life. Many of his life-long companions were from that tribe, and much of his artwork captured the frenzied action of cowboys and Indians, and the animals they either rode or chased.

Scriver’s father was an Indian trader who founded a reservation store. Bob molded small animal figures as a child but rather than art, he studied music, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Dickinson State University in Bismarck, N.D. The university awarded him its highest honor, the Blue Feather Award, in 1995. He then taught public school in Browning and Malta whilst playing in professional bands across the Northwest and Canada.

Because of his early familiarity with the anatomy of animals, he also taught himself taxidermy, which he turned to in 1951. He mounted wildlife for over 10 years, including the famous “Big Medicine” albino buffalo and the “Desert Bighorn” for the Death Valley Museum.

Scriver returned to sculpting at the age of 42. His love of nature, knowledge of anatomy, an ability to compose music, and his years of close association with the Blackfeet had indispensable influences on his life as an artist. He received much recognition , including medals for excellence in sculpture by both the Cowboy Artist of America and the National Academy of Western Art, of which he was a member.

In 1956 he established his unusual Bob Scriver Wildlife Museum and Hall of Bronze in Browning. Outside the museum stands one of Scriver’s large bronze statues of a bucking horse and rider. Inside, the ground floor is jam-packed with stuffed grizzly bears, elk, moose and smaller animals. And every nook and cranny of the basement is filled with his bronzes of wildlife and Blackfeet Indians.

In 1959, the chairman of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council asked Scriver to create 12 statues illustrating tribal culture. Over the next 20 years Scriver fashioned 53 statues in bronze, plaster or fiberglass depicting 1,200 years of Blackfeet history. The statues recall such events as the introduction of the horse, which the Blackfeet called “elk-dogs,” as well as scenes of religious ceremonies and daily life. Scriver named the series “No More Buffalo,” taking the name from a single work, an elderly Blackfeet Indian clutching a spear and gazing futilely across empty plains. Scriver used an elderly member of the tribe, Ed Big Beaver, as his model.

Scriver also sculpted the portrait statue of Charles Russell for the Charlie Russell Museum in Great Falls, MT. An award at the annual Russell auction was named in Scriver’s honor. Two of his other well-known historic statues are those of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody in Cody, WY., and of all-around rodeo cowboy champion Bill Linderman at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.