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…
    Eli

  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

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“Dissent” Show at Sparrow Gallery, Sacramento, CA. July 1 – August, 2017

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Iron Horse Summer Art Social, Whitefish, MT. June 25, 2017

“First Strike Auction” March 17, 2017 C.M. Russell Museum https://cmrussell.org/the-russell-event/

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“Back to Basics” Painting Workshop in Big Sky, MT. – October 28-30, 2016

“2016 Annual AWA Member Show & National Juried Exhibition” – Sept. 23 to Nov. 14, 2016 https://americanwomenartists.org/news//

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“Montana Painters Alliance Show” at the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell, MT. June 30, 2016 – August 31, 2016. http://www.hockadaymuseum.org/

I’m teaching a workshop called “Back to Basics: Considerations for Every Painter” at the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, MT., April 29 – May 1, 2016 https://www.cmrussell.org/content/back-basics-considerations-every-painter-laurie-stevens/

“Auction for the Arts” at Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, MT. March 24, 2016 http://www.bigskyarts.org/

“Out West Art Show & Sale” at the Heritage Inn, Great Falls, MT. March 16-19, 2016 http://outwestartshow.com/

Guest Artist at Altamira Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZ., 2015 http://www.altamiraart.com

“Traveling the West Art Show & Sale” at Southwest Gallery, Dallas, TX. – October 23-24, 2015 http://www.travelingthewestshow.com

“Boots Required!” at Bella Muse Gallery, Ogden, UT. – July 3 – August 31, 2015 http://www.bellamusegallery.com

“Summer Art Social” at Iron Horse, Whitefish, MT. – June 30, 2015 www.whitefishcommunityfoundation.org/summer-art-social/

The Dana Gallery “Icons of the West” Show, May 15 – June 30,, 2015 http://www.danagallery.com

The Russell Live Auction, Mansfield Convention Center, Great Falls, MT., Saturday, Mar. 21, 2015 http://www.cmrussell.org/the-russell

Booth Western Art Museum “For the Love of Art Gala & Art Auction” – February 21, 2015 www.boothmuseum.org

Altamira Fine Art “Art 2 Art Show”, Jackson, WY. – mid December, 2014 – January 1, 2015 www.altamiraart.com

Tom Gilleon & Laurie Stevens – 2 person show hosted by Altamira Gallery of Jackson, WY. and Creighton Block Gallery of Big Sky, MT., July1 – 18, 2014 http://www.creightonblockgallery.com

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum “Small Works, Great Wonders” Show, Oklahoma City, OK. – Nov. 15 – Dec. 1, 2013 http://nationalcowboymuseum.org/events/swgw/default.aspx

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.

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