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Exhibit Archives

Two Generations
Merle Olson & Darlene Olson Morgan

September 2 through October 15

Young Blackfeet Girl, by Darlene Olson Morgan
Young Blackfeet Girl, India ink
by Darlene Olson Morgan

Two Generations is an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Flathead Valley artists Merle Olson and her daughter Darlene Olson Morgan. Merle Olson (1910-1999) always felt the urge to paint and recreate the vibrant spirit of her surroundings. In her landscapes, Merle sought to “paint the landscape uncluttered by man...the serene and restful beauty, the grandeur of the land.” Both a painter and sculptor, she exhibited around the country. 

Merle Olson’s daughter Darlene Morgan began drawing and painting at a very young age. In her paintings of Native Americans and other western themes, Darlene uses India ink in an ink wash, creating very detailed images that are sometimes mistaken for photographs.

Merle Olson grew up in Woodruff, Arizona, an area surrounded by Apache and Navajo Indians.  She lived in many places but the Southwest was always a draw to her. Merle set up a studio in Salt Lake City, where she divided her time between landscape painting and restoring antiques for twelve years.

Merle later moved to Bigfork, Montana with her husband Paul. In 1970, after creating works in clay, she and her husband decided to open a foundry to cast her work into bronze. Most of her sculptures are portraits of the Native people.

Many of her paintings were on the subject of National Parks including:  Zion’s Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and Glacier National Park. She loved the land of the Navajos in the Southwest because of the unique colors and earth formations found in that region.

Merle was included in the book, “New Interpretations” by Dale A. Burk, 1969, which featured profiles of Montana’s most prominent artists at that time. He stated in his book, “I find joy in the freshness and quiet beauty of nature that Merle Olson captures in her artwork. Her exquisite paintings are a philosophical expression of that truth, or reality, she pursues.”

Darlene Olson Morgan demonstrated her passion for drawing and painting at a very young age thanks to the inspiration and encouragement she received from her Mother, Merle. Darlene moved to Bigfork, Montana in 1967 during her early twenties. It was at this time that she started to paint seriously. Her focus is mostly Native Americans, which she paints with India inks.  She states, “I love painting the Native Americans and other western themes. The pensive face of a child or the lines of age in an elderly person’s face is what I enjoy painting most.” Darlene’s work is very detailed and India ink is very hard to control. But, this is a medium that she feels very comfortable with and has had good success.


Hockaday Museum of Art  
302 Second Ave. East, Kalispell, Montana, 59901

(406) 755-5268  -  FAX (406) 755-2023