Barb Schwarz Karst is best known as a painter who blends traditional media and subject matters with splashes of contemporary freshness and attitude. Originally trained as a watercolorist, she “pushes the envelope” by manipulating oils and acrylics into what some viewers find intriguing, questioning the actual source of materials and their method of application. Her paintings are currently on view at the 2009 Montana Triennial Exhibition at the MAM (Missoula Art Museum) and the Dana Gallery in Missoula, Montana.
Her current show is a collaborative effort with her eldest brother, Bob, who in 2003 was diagnosed with a rare and deadly form of lymphoma, Mantle Cell. The eighteen mixed media portraits on wooden panels represent crucial turning points in Bob’s life. They, also, include meditative phrases which read in succession, left to right, complete a poem chronicling his life. “Two Blessings Born” and “Blood of My Blood” depict acrylic and graphic sketches of Bob’s likeness, deep in thought, as if contemplating the birth of his son, Rob and daughter, Tiff. “Chaotic in Structure, Stacker’s Hand Unstable” represents the initial news of his cancer diagnosis.
In addition to the paintings and poem, Bob adds to the completeness of his own story by honestly writing short stories and dialog which illustrate each life experience. Schwarz Karst was recently seen at CTA Architects Engineers in Missoula with her body of work titled the Montana Rust Belt: Abandoned Industries, a series of brightly colored, interchangeable square canvas oils depicting close ups of rusted, damaged metal equipment, which summarize the dying and lost industries on which Montana was founded: copper mining, the oil industry, passenger trains, etc. “Schwarz Karst’s choice of provocative colors intensifies the visuals. Hers is a palette of iron oxide, bright and contemporary, yet still leaning toward the ancient casts of the Copper Kings’ rubiginous erosion, pollution, and environmental neglect.” (Brian D’Ambrosio, Clark Fork Journal)
Schwarz Karst’s work has been featured in worldwide and domestic exhibitions, publicized in several books and magazines, featured in a number of one-person shows, and has been acquired and housed in permanent collections of museums, corporate, private, and traveling collections throughout the United States. She has shown at the Salmagundi Club on 5th Avenue in New York City for the past two years. Barb, 50, was born in Billings, MT. Since 1986, she has worked and lived in Missoula. She is a member of OPA (Oil Painters of America) and ASBA (American Society of Botanical Artists).
Bob Schwarz, a thirty-three year veteran public school teacher, taught high school English and coached most of his career in Billings. He was a department chairperson from 1995-1998 at Billings Senior. Known as a “stickler” for proper English prose and highly influenced by the great authors, Schwarz helped many a beginning reader and writer develop a true passion for literature. Additionally, he has edited books, poems, short stories, letters, etc. for some professionals throughout the years. Personally, he has written several “unpublished” short stories, but you can find proof of his creative political penning by searching the opinion page archives of The Billings Gazette at http://www.billingsgazette.com/. He received the Gazette Golden Pen Award in 2003 for an article he wrote about how some Americans use the flag.
The Billings Gazette wrote, “Thanks to Bob Schwarz for a letter that raises good questions about the meanings of patriotism and respect.” Bob was born with Nebraska Cornhusker blood, but he currently resides in Billings, MT.