A Huge Loss

It is all I can do to make this post, but I need to do so to honor a dear friend and a great artist. Sheila Rieman passed away on Thursday, Nov 17th, 2011. She was traveling (as she was always traveling) to an art show in Billings, MT. She was just outside of Billings when she had a car accident that took her life.

Sheila was a bright spot in so many people’s lives. She was always laughing and fun to be around, a true friend, always there to help, a hard worker, an amazing multi-talented person, a great teacher, a great artist. I can’t tell you how much she’ll be missed – by so many.

Just last week I tore the following poem out of the paper, meaning to file it away. In seeing it now I know that it was meant for Sheila. She has lived her life close to nature, with her own animals and the wild ones that frequent her space. Her great art has been a tribute to all of those things. Sheila, my friend, my family, I can’t tell you how much we will miss you. The world won’t be the same without you.

“The Song of the River” by W.R. Hearst

The snow melts on the mountain. And the water runs down to the spring.

And the spring in a turbulent fountain, with a song of youth to sing,

Runs down to the riotous river, and the river flows to the sea.

And the water again goes back to rain, to the hills where it used to be.

And I wonder if life’s deep mystery isn’t much like the rain and snow.

Returning through all eternity to the places it used to know.

For life was born on the lofty heights and flows in a laughing stream

To the river below who’s outward flow ends in a peaceful dream.

And so at last when our life has passed, and the river has run it’s course,

It again goes back o’er the selfsame track to the mountain which was it’s source.

So why prize life or why fear death, or dread what is to be?

The river ran it’s allotted span till it reached the silent sea.

Then the water harked back to the mountain top to begin it’s course once more.

So we shall run the course begun till we reach the silent shore.

Then revisit earth in a pure rebirth from the heart of the virgin snow.

So don’t ask why we live or die, or whither or when we go,

or wonder about the mysteries that only God may know.

Posted in Animals, Dancers, Montana Painters Alliance, Rodeo, Sheila Rieman, The mountains, The Ranch
9 comments on “A Huge Loss
  1. Sarah Nelson says:

    Hi, I ran across this and wanted to share. What you said about Sheila is so true. Sheila and Pete have been a part of my families life since I was a little girl and I always admired her as my mom and entire family did. The walls of my parents house is surrounded by her colorful, calming, beautiful art. Any to this day my dad always has a story of when Pete comes to visit and take care of the horses as he’s done for years. Such wonderful people to the core.
    My mom used to help Sheila in the summer as they traveled to art shows together and I was fortunate to attend one with them. Such wonderful memories and such an honor to spend time with such a gifted person. We’ll miss her dearly, I know my mom will need extra prayers to get through this time, but we know she’s safe in Gods arms, painting all the colors heaven. My prayers go out to all of Sheila’s friends and family, and those that she’s inspired.

  2. Christine McKay says:

    Beautiful thoughts and tributes, Laurie and Sarah. I didn’t know Sheila like you did but her artwork spoke deeply to me. When I did meet her, she was so gracious – so calm and lovely. My heart goes out to both of you and to her husband…to all who had the pleasure and privilege of knowing her. What a terrible loss. As I looked over this artwork of hers, I am imagining her and that deer moving together, into the cosmic force, melding into a mythical vision. Thank you for sharing….

  3. Tim and Annie Thom says:

    Dear Laurie and Sarah, We were shocked and saddened to learn of Sheila’s tragic and untimely death when Carol Seltzer emailed us. We first met Sheila at the Russell and always enjoyed stopping by your joint room to say hello and see what was new, and one year purchased one of her “psychedelic” Grizzly Bears for our son Colin. Annie and I know how close you were to Sheila and we send our heartfelt condolences for the loss of a good friend and artist. We are touched and appreciate your wonderful tributes to her here on FB.

  4. Laurie, What a beautiful poem and tribute to Sheila. I first met Sheila at an art show in North Dakota that I was representing Don Greytak at some 25 years ago. I bought my first piece from her then called “Sandhills Landscape” and have followed her work ever since. I admired her as a person and an artist. I too will miss her.

  5. Tina Harboway says:

    So sorry for your loss. I met Sheila only a few times, but she did seem to be a great gal.

  6. Sara Walsh says:

    Beautiful, Laurie. The world truly has been enriched by her presence, & diminished by her departure.

  7. Glenda Sue Hanna says:

    This is a beautiful tribute to Sheila, Laurie. She was indeed a blessing to all who knew her. What a sad loss.

  8. Eli Erlandson says:

    Laurie, A beautiful tribute to a beautiful person who will be sorely missed by all who knew her. Her art will continue giving her view of life’s beautiful colors, full of action and peace,giving joy beyond what one can measure for countless years to come…

  9. Liz LaColla says:

    I never met Sheila, but I know she was a wonderful friend to my sister Sara Walsh. As I looked at her art it was easy to see what a kind heart she must have had. There seems to be appreciation and admiration for whatever she was capturing through her art.

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Laurie Stevens

Recent Accolades

6-2020 “The Artist’s Wife” was one of 150 paintings juried into the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society 2020 Spring International Online Competition.

2-2020 I was accepted into the Booth Western Art Museum show Making Their Mark: American Women Artists. May 27 – Aug. 23, 2020.

2018 – I was chosen as a Finalist in the Portrait Society of America’s “Members Only Competition” (in the Non-Commissioned Portrait Category) with my painting, “The Artist’s Wife”.

2018 – I was chosen to grace the “Classic Moments” page of the July / August 2018 Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. This is the last page of the magazine and a full page spread! My painting, “The Artist’s Wife”, 32×24, was my response to a painting of the same title by William Merit Chase, done in 1892. – https://fineartconnoisseur.com/category/magazine/current-issue/

2018 – “An Early Breakfast” was juried into the NOAPS 2018 Best of America Small Painting National Exhibition at Richland Fine Art in Nashville, TN. April 30 – May 26, 2018 – http://www.noaps.org/copy-of-best-of-america-prospectus

2018 – Portrait Society of America – 6×9: Limited Size, Unlimited Talent Mystery Art Sale, April 20 at the Art of the Portrait Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. – http://www.portraitsociety.org/

2017 – C.M. Russell Museum Auction “The Russell” – http://www.cmrauction.com/

2017 – Dinghies and U-Turn were juried into the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society Holiday Small Works Show in Parkville, MO. – https://www.noaps.org/holiday-small-works-show

2017 – Portrait Society of American Members Only Competition Finalist in the “Outside the Box” Figurative Competition – for “Mourning Dove” 36×24 – https://www.portraitsociety.org/moc-2017-winners

2017 – Two pieces juried into the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society Holiday Small Works Show – https://www.noaps.org/holiday-small-works-show

2016 – Portrait Society of America “Members Only Show” – I placed in the Landscape Division with my painting “Milk and Honey”! See the images on the slider. – http://www.portraitsociety.org/moc-2016-winners

2014 – Spring, 2015 – Juried into the Spring American Women Artists Online Juried Show. http://www.americanwomenartists.org/news/html/t_oli_2014_fall.html

2014 – Juried into the Fall NOAPS International Online Showcase. http://www.noaps.org/html/t_oli_2014_fall.html

2014 – Juried into the American Women Artists National Competition & Exhibition, Orleans, MA.www.americanwomenartists.org

2014 – Chosen to be an “Art in Action” Artist for the Russell Auction event at Meadowlark Country Club, Great Falls, MT., Mar. 21www.cmrussell.org/the-russell

2013 – Juried into the American Women Artists National Competition & Exhibition, Fredericksburg, TXwww.americanwomenartists.org

2012 – A piece of mine, “Motel Galata” was selected to be part of the permanent Modern West Collection at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, GA! www.boothmuseum.org/

2012 – Top 100 Paint the Parks National Competition (2 pieces) www.paintamerica.org

2011 People’s Choice Award at the Clymer Museum of Art Exhibit & Auction www.clymermuseum.com

2008 C.M. Russell Museum CEO Award – given to one Russell Auction participant www.cmrussell.org

2008 – 2010 Paint America Top 100 www.paintamerica.org

About Me

Stevens’ work reflects the small daily wonders of the land she calls home: the first crocus of spring, the resilient beauty of the plains, or that special sense of hope and possibility that is only found in the West. Stevens is also interested in regional history, particularly the interactions of Native Americans and white settlers during the Reservation Period. Many of her paintings are an exploration of this dynamic and a meditation on the “taming of the West.” From Billings, MT, Laurie began her career as an artist in Los Angeles where she spent 12 years working for the entertainment industry as a scenic artist and muralist for television, theme park, theater and movie productions. She spent time as a member of the Walt Disney Imagineering team, lending her talents to many Disney theme park projects worldwide. She also did some set design, illustration, and matte paintings for several animated childrens’ movies. In the 1980’s Stevens returned to her native Montana, first to the mountains near the Scapegoat Wilderness and then to the ranch near Great Falls where she currently lives and works.