Shopping cart
Units Item Price Delete
 Total $: 0.00
CHECK OUT
A A A
Elmer Sprunger
Artist, Naturalist and Political Humorist

On Exhibit
May 26 - September 3, 2011


Blue Grouse
Oil
11" x 14"
From the collection of Jerry Sprunger

This painting sponsored by:
Laura Barrett

 


Moose Posing
Watercolor

18" x 24"
From the collection of Jerry Sprunger

This painting sponsored by:
Denny & Kitty Kellogg

 


Swan Lake Island
Watercolor

11" x 7"
From the collection of Jerry Sprunger

This painting sponsored by:
Rosanne & Joel Holliday

 


Swan River Elk

Oil

24" x 18"
From the collection of Denny & Kitty Kellogg

This painting sponsored by:
Randy & Jennifer Wright

Elmer was born in Kalispell, Montana on September 23, 1919 to parents Jerry and Mary Sprunger.  The family resided on the north end of Swan Lake.  Elmer referred to his childhood “As growing up in the cedar jungle on the shady side of Swan Lake”.  Here he was exposed to abundant wildlife that moved freely through the landscape, and where his lifelong love of the natural world began.   Sprunger first showed promise as an artist when he and younger brother Pete made sketches of figures from the comic strips.  Elmer was a sophomore in high school when he took his first art lessons from famed artist, Elizabeth Lochrie.

Elmer met his bride to be, Marie Svejkovsky of Stanford, Montana while she was visiting her sister in the neighboring community of Somers.  They were married in 1940 and had three children Nancy, Joyce and son Jerry.  The family moved numerous times while Sprunger pursued several different vocations in Montana and the state of Washington as a fence post cutter, ship fitter and drafter, and logger.  It was during this period he began seriously creating cartoons that were filled with his unique commentary on politics and life.  Elmer decided to join the Army during World War ll.  Sprunger was stationed in Hawaii where he worked in the Arts and Crafts room creating commercial art and drawing posters for military shows.

The family moved back to Swan Lake in 1950 and Elmer took a job as caretaker of Cedar Bay Lodge.  There he cultivated his relationship to the outdoors as hunter, fisherman, hiker, observer and painter.  In 1953, they moved to Bigfork and soon after he began working at the Anaconda Aluminum Company in Columbia Falls.  His duties included painting, sign painting and cartooning. He drew hundreds of cartoons promoting safe working conditions often using humor at the expense of his fellow workers.  Sprunger co-authored a booklet with another plant employee Dale Burk. “Buck Fever” was a collection of cartoons and comments on the sport of hunting and was published in 1962. In the evenings and on the weekends he would paint wildlife.

Elmer was 52 in 1971 when left his position at the plant to become a full-time professional wildlife artist.  He was able to do field research and focus completely on what he loved to do.  He said,” I couldn’t ask for a nicer life.  It’s almost more than anybody could ask for, to be able to stomp out in the woods anytime you want to, to do the things you like to do and be able to make a living at it.”  He sold paintings in galleries and worked on commissions.  His realistic style of painting wildlife and outdoor scenes earned him a national following.  Sprunger was especially fond of painting wild birds, elk and bear.  When asked what inspired him Elmer said,”Wildlife seems to be to be one of the few enduring things in this day when we have so much planned obsolescence.   Creative expression is shut off for most people, while wildlife can go about being what they are without having to pretend to be something else, or worry about pleasing anybody”.

Elmer always found time to draw his cartoons and never missed an opportunity to share his analysis of current events.  He targeted politicians, dignitaries and especially the logging of public lands.  Sprunger’s cartoons were featured prominently in the Bigfork Eagle for 24 years, time and again in the Missoulian and in several national conservation magazines.  

As accomplished as he was as an artist, he was a humble soul and not overly concerned with advancing his reputation or fame.  Sprunger’s pursuits were focused on taking his creativity to the next level.  Elmer Sprunger died on August 22, 2007 at age 87 in Kalispell, Montana after a 6-month illness with lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.  Four years after his death, the artist remains a local favorite and his paintings are collected nationally.  Sprunger’s work hangs in the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma, the Safari Club in Las Vegas, public buildings and prominent homes throughout the west.

Sponsor a Painting in the
Elmer Sprunger
Artist, Naturalist and Political Humorist
Exhibit

A $300 sponsorship of a painting entitles the sponsor to the following:

  • Acknowledgment on gallery label for a chosen painting in the exhibition
  • Identification as a sponsor on the Hockaday's website and on a placard in the Museum
  • Four complimentary adult admissions to the Museum for your friends to enjoy the Elmer Sprunger exhibit at their leisure
Visit the sponsorship page by clicking on the button below. 

Elmer Sprunger
Artist, Naturalist and Political Humorist

is sponsored by

Laura Barrett

Rosanne & Joel Holliday

Denny & Kitty Kellogg

Randy & Jennifer Wright

 

©2017

Follow us on Facebook    Follow us on Twitter    Watch us on YouTube    Join Our Email List
  Visit Our Wheelchair Accessible Facility