A Canadian artist is south of the border, working on erecting his work of art to promote a Havre-area archaeological site and tourist attraction.
Jim Marshall of Medicine Hat, Alberta said he has started building the mural he has prepared depicting the Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump west of Havre.
“We think we’ll be done by Friday or Saturday,” Marshall said Monday. “It just depends on how nice the weatherman is.”
The mural depicts two Native Americans driving bison over the Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump north of where Havre’s Holiday Village Mall now is. The 16-foot wide, 10-foot high mural is being put up on Boot Hill Plaza halfway up the hill next to U.S. Highway 2 on the western edge of Havre.
The mural was commissioned by the Clack Museum Foundation, which provides financing for the H. Earl and Margaret Turner Clack Museum and the bison kill site.
The foundation is selling plates engraved with names which will be mounted on the wall containing the artwork itself.
Marshall said some of the plates engraved with names will be installed on the structure this week, with his intent to come back next year to install more, including additional plates the foundation expects to sell by then.
While this is the first mural Marshall has made in the United States, he has been making his artwork in Canada and overseas since the 1970s, and he turned to his artwork full-time in 1978.
Marshall carves the three-dimensional mural onto clay blocks assembled into the shape of the final mural, then colors the art and fires the clay blocks. He then takes them to the location of the artwork and re-assembles them, constructing the actual mural.
“It has to be put together as pieces,” he said.
Marshall said numerous delays have slowed down the erection of the mural, including some problems with customs but primarily with the weather.
“We’ve been ready to go since May,” he said.
The rain throughout the spring, summer and early fall slowed down work preparing the site, next to a new hotel that is planned for construction. Once the workers finished the preparations, including building a retaining wall on the slopes of the bluff the mural will overlook, he came down to start his work.
“We got run off today by the rain,” Marshall added.