Montana Arts Council Announces Governor’s Arts Award Winners for 2022

Montana Arts Council
  • Eric Heidle
  • November 17 2022
Bronze Governor's Arts Award Medallion Reverse Side

Six creative Montanans have been recognized with the state’s highest honor for those working in the visual, performing, literary, and traditional arts. The Governor’s Arts Awards, presented in the Governor’s name and administered by the Montana Arts Council, recognize outstanding Montana citizens and organizations whose exemplary achievements in the arts, or on behalf of the arts, benefit all Montanans. This year’s recipients will be honored in a ceremony at the State Capitol in Helena on December 1.

Presented every two years, the Governor’s Arts Awards recognize achievement and artistic excellence, dedication to Montana, ongoing contributions to the cultural community, and worthiness of recognition. The 2022 Governor’s Arts Award recipients are:

Ceramicist Josh DeWeese of Bozeman

Visual artist Don Greytak of Havre

Novelist Deirdre McNamer of Missoula

Musician Rob Quist of Kalispell

Photographer Barbara Van Cleve of Big Timber

Rawhide braider Nate Wald of Lodge Grass

Lieutenant Governor Kristen Juras will be in attendance for the presentation of this year's awards. “For generations, Montana has stirred the creativity of writers, artists, and musicians who have helped shape our vibrant culture,” Governor Gianforte said. “We’re proud to honor these individuals for their unique talents and contributions to Montana.”

The 2022 Governor’s Arts Award recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Thursday, December 1 at 2pm in the Old Supreme Court Chamber of the Montana State Capitol in Helena. The public is invited to attend, and a reception in the Capitol Rotunda will follow the awards presentation, with refreshments, hors d'oeuvres, and music by Western Union Swing Band of Hamilton. The awards ceremony will also be broadcast on Television Montana (TVMT), the statewide government broadcasting service.


2022 Governor’s Arts Award Recipient Biographies


Josh DeWeese

There hasn’t been a time when Josh DeWeese hasn’t been steeped in art.

Growing up in Bozeman, DeWeese came from a creative family. He attended Montana State University before going on to the Kansas City Art Institute, a leading school for the study of ceramics. There he studied under Ken Ferguson, one of the original directors of the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena.

This year, DeWeese is being honored for his work with the Montana Arts Council Governor’s Arts Award.

“Josh DeWeese has a rare combination of skills and personal traits not only as an artist/craftsman but also as an engaging personality, making him an excellent teacher who has grown into leadership roles in academia and the ceramics world,” said nominator Willem Volkersz. “It is wonderful to have a world class ceramic artist like him in our midst.”

Josh has studied art abroad, traveling to France, Italy and Spain. When he returned, he started down a path that would lead to him heading up the Archie Bray Foundation for 14 years. He currently teaches ceramics at MSU, where he is the college’s Director of the School of Art. He also continues to serve on the Bray Foundation’s board of directors.

Several of the people who wrote recommendation letters for Josh highlighted his contribution to the Bray, including a $3.5 million campaign to build a new state-of-the-art ceramics studio.

During his tenure, the Bray grew in many positive ways, improving all aspects of its infrastructure, staffing, and funding,” said Richard Notkin. “Josh led the foundation through the raising of millions of dollars to establish a strong endowment fund, eliminating resident artist studio fees and instituting full year stipends for all resident artists, allowing these emerging potters and sculptors to focus full-time on developing their art and careers.”

Multiple recommendation letters also talked of his commitment to helping other ceramics artists, including inviting younger potters to work in his studio and participate in his firings.

“It is fitting that Josh is now a professor at Montana State, where he harnesses his considerable artistry and experience for the benefit of undergraduate students and BFA candidates of ceramics,” said Cary Esser. “He is educating future leaders of the field by providing sustenance for new generations of artists, appreciators, and arts professionals of many kinds.”

Julia Galloway said Josh is exceptional at embracing potters of all levels equally, saying, “DeWeese is community minded, and draws people into the vortex of ceramics in Bozeman. How often have I heard ‘see you at Josh’s house’ – many times. DeWeese has an uncanny ability to welcome all into the artist community.”

DeWeese co-founded the International Wild Clay Research Project to study Indigenous materials and processes as well, which took him around the world. His work continues to be displayed in the U.S. and internationally by other artists, in museums and in private collections.


Don Greytak

According to Don Greytak’s website, he “grew up as a Montana farm boy, making his living as a rancher, a pilot, a designer-builder of horse and stock trailers and a metal sculptor.”

Greytak’s graphite sketches have made him a Montana icon, and anyone who grew up in the state has likely heard of his art.

Don Greytak was a self-taught artist and has worked full-time as a pencil illustrator since 1978, and his work can still be found on display and for sale at the Old Library Art Gallery in Havre.

Now, in 2022, he is one of six recipients of the Montana Arts Council’s Governor’s Arts Award for individuals who have “contributed a substantial legacy to the arts in Big Sky Country.”

Nominator Pep Jewell said she and her husband Wally met Don when Wally was working in the camera department of a pharmacy in Havre. Greytak used to come in and get film developed, and his pictures encompassed all the people, places and things of the Hi-Line.

The photos became references for Greytak’s pencil drawings.

The Jewells have a wall of Greytak art in their home, including a piece that commemorates the birth of their first son that dates back to Don’s earliest years.

“Don is truly a historian of life on the Montana Hi-Line,” said Pep Jewell. “His black-and-white pencil art truly captures the essence of life as it was in years gone by. Often his art captures the humor of a moment, such as when a horse plows through the snow while an old truck or car is shown stuck in the gumbo or snow.”

Greytak’s work contains everything from farming and ranching to planes, trains and cars to rodeo and family scenes. Each one is meant to tell a story that tugs the emotions and draws in anyone who looks at it, according to his bio.

Don complete catalog contains more than 500 pieces, and some originals can sell for thousands. His prints, however, are priced in the area of 10 to 30 dollars, which means pretty much anyone can afford a little slice of Don Greytak’s black-and-white world.


Deirdre McNamer

Deirdre McNamer’s heart lies with Montana.

Born in Conrad, Deirdre has lived in Cut Bank, Bozeman and Missoula during her long career. She was a journalist with the Missoulian for many years, starting in the late 1970s, and was a professor of creative writing at the University of Montana until she retired in 2020.

But Deirdre McNamer isn’t just from Montana. Her writing is steeped in Montana stories.

“McNamer is the foremost writer in the state, eloquently evoking Montana’s past and present, landscape and people,” said writer and filmmaker Constance J. Poten in her recommendation for the award.

Poten praised McNamer’s work as a journalist, as well. She said Deirdre was good at finding overlooked newsworthy stories and bringing their subjects to her readers in a respectful way.

Deirdre’s first novel, “Rima in the Weeds,” features a single mom who leaves and returns to Montana. Her most recent, “Aviary,” is set in a Montana nursing home. According to Humanities Montana Director of Programs and Grants Kim Anderson, who recommended her for the award, McNamer’s books “have explored both the sometimes harsh realities of small town life in the west and the trials of contemporary life in more urban Montana settings.”

A decorated novelist, short story writer and essayist, McNamer won best book of 2007 from publications such as the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News. The New York Times has named two of her novels as notable books in 1994 and 1999. She’s also been published in The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Deirdre has been in demand as a presenter, as well, serving as a speaker or panelist for conferences and symposiums across the country, including the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference. In addition, she has been a judge for several fellowships and prizes.

“McNamer has been a huge factor in the University of Montana’s reputation as one of the top creative writing programs in the country, carrying on the tradition of H.G. Merriam, Richard Hugo, and William Kittredge,” Anderson said. “She has often been called ‘a writer’s writer,’ a writer whose craft is subtle and yet amazingly effective.”

As part of that creative writing program, Deirdre has contributed to the writing careers of students who have gone on to win the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

Nominator Caroline Patterson compares McNamer to Willa Cather “if Willa Cather were describing missile silos on the Hi-Line or seniors trying to preserve their dignity in a culture that does not value aging or a woman who, overwhelmed, decides to hide out from her life.”

Poten sums up McNamer’s contribution to not just the literary field, but also the wider world, saying, “Those who have gone into other careers say she taught them with humor and compassion how to think clearly, express their thoughts, and analyze a situation no matter how initially confusing or intimidating. Deirdre has made an indelible mark on her students and on Montana with her clear-eyed wisdom and generosity.”


Rob Quist

A man of many talents, Rob Quist is known as a musical and cultural ambassador for the state of Montana.

He’s been a singer and instrumentalist since his youth, when he was also a champion basketballer. He was one of the founders of the Mission Mountain Wood Band, which opened for Rare Earth in 1971 and has appeared on the legendary country TV show Hee Haw. He’s had his music recorded by country stars Michael Martin Murphey and Loretta Lynn. He’s been the Democratic nominee for Montana’s lone Congressional seat.

Not bad for a guy from Cut Bank.

And now, he can add the Montana Arts Council Governor’s Arts Award to his list of accolades.

According to nominator Philip Aaberg, Quist’s bio is an impressive one.

Rob and Steve Riddle started what would eventually be the Mission Mountain Wood Band when they were both at the University of Montana. The band opened for many notable acts and played events around Montana before it broke up in 1982.

Quist and some of the Mission Mountain Wood Band members formed the Montana Band.  Rob had already left the band before his fellow members tragic deaths in a plane crash.

Susan McCormick, who recommended Quist for the Governor’s Arts Award, said she met Rob in 1989 during her master’s program at UM. Quist and Blackfeet troubadour Jack Gladstone performed to celebrate Montana’s centennial. Gladstone joined Susan in nominating Quist for the award.

“I had the opportunity to further acquaint myself with Rob and his deep lyrical and musical reverence for our home state,” McCormick said. “His charisma and ability to relate to the audience as the son of a Montana rancher created a lasting impression...Rob Quist is the music of the Big Sky, the voice of Montana.”

As a solo performer, Quist performed with backup band Great Northern. They’ve performed original music with symphony orchestras both in and outside of Montana. Quist wrote and recorded national television and radio ads for Levi's 501 Jeans, Amtrak's Empire Builder and Coors beer.

It was during a stint in Nashville that Rob earned awards for his songs and received national airplay. Captured on 15 CDs, his work sings the lives and history of Montana and the West. Rob’s songs hit the Billboard and independent charts and have been played worldwide.

“(Quist’s) work...gave the whole country a chance to experience music from Montana,” said John Lowell and Joanne Gardner Lowell in their letter of recommendation.

Quist has appeared with musical acts Heart, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jimmy Buffett, Dolly Parton, The Allman Brothers Band, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Bonnie Raitt, the Charlie Daniels Band, Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, and Jay Leno.

Phillip Aaberg noted that Rob Quist has been saluted as “a celebrated Montana musician and composer who has captured the spirit of the West in his music, an evocative and versatile artist whose gift of song has touched the hearts and souls of his countrymen, an eloquent proponent of the history and beauty of the West whose legacy in song will be embraced by generations to follow.”


Barbara Van Cleve

Barbara Van Cleve doesn’t just photograph the American West. She lives it.

“Having grown up on a ranch in Melville, Montana, Barbara is the quintessential ranch woman who has moved cattle on horseback, breathed the dust, branded the steers, struggled in snowstorms, climbed the mountains and captured it all with her camera while riding a horse.”

Those are the words of Kathleen Agnew, who nominated Van Cleve for this year’s Montana Arts Council Governor’s Arts Award.

Van Cleve has been taking photographs since she was 11 years old, capturing ranch and rodeo life as she progressed through the next seven-plus decades. In addition to many other awards and accolades, she has been inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Her work has been displayed in 14 states, four foreign countries and across Montana.

Many of the letters recommending Barbara mentioned the Big Timber Arts Roundup, an intensive four-day retreat where she teaches photography to students from Montana and beyond.

Robert and Susan Burch, who host the retreat, wrote a letter of recommendation for Barbara which described her down-and-dirty approach to photography.

“To see 20 of her students, cameras in hand, creeping through a meadow to get just the right photograph of a curious heifer is to fully understand Barbara,” the letter read. “She is an inspiration, a role model and an unbridled source of creativity.”

Without exception, Van Cleve’s recommendation letters describe her as a caring and kind person who never has to be asked twice for a favor.

“The qualities of individuals that make (the ranching) life so worthy of documentation—integrity, honesty, good humor and a solid work ethic—hold clear presence in Van Cleve’s photographs. They are also the terms by which she lives her own life,” said Janet Zupan.

In addition, Barbara’s supporters know her as a community leader and a promoter of the arts community, especially in Sweet Grass County where she volunteers her time to the Sweet Grass Arts Alliance and the Two Rivers Gallery.

Author Claire Davis puts it more simply, describing Barbara Van Cleve as the “quintessential spokesperson” for Montana.


Nate Wald

It was Nate Wald’s wife who nominated him for the 2022 Montana Arts Council Governor’s Arts Award.

Given out every two years, the award “honors individuals and institutions who've contributed a substantial legacy to the arts in Big Sky Country.”

Nate’s legacy started in 1988 with a lot of trial and error.

At the time, there wasn’t much information out there for aspiring rawhide braiders. So Wald sat down with a copy of the Bruce Grant Encyclopedia of Rawhide and Leather Braiding and taught himself. Since that time, Nate has considered it important to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of braiders. He and his wife have even hosted novice braiders at their home so Wald can teach them the craft.

The Walds raise commercial cattle and American Quarter Horses on the Crow Indian Reservation near Lodge Grass, and braiding and using rawhide horse gear has been a part of their lives for more than three decades.

As a horseman, Nate has an appreciation for the function of braided gear that works well on a horse. As a braider, he’s heightened function to the level of art.

“The cowboy culture is a huge part of Montana’s heritage, and rawhide braiding is a discipline created out of necessity by horsemen who make up that culture,” said T.J. Wald in her nomination. “While this skill was something that was commonplace among working cowboys, some went beyond simple utility and took rawhide braiding to an art form. In my opinion, Nate is the best rawhide braider in the country.”

Nate Wald has been a Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA) member since 2000 and served as its president from 2015 to 2017. He has been inducted into the Circle of American Masters and was selected Braider of the Year by the Academy of Western Artists in 2007.

Over the years, Nate has taught numerous workshops in Montana and across the country. He’s made two trips to Argentina to learn more about South American-style braidwork and to teach Argentine braiders the American style of braiding.

“Nate’s soft-spoken and gentle nature complements his uncompromising drive and ability to improve and perfect his work,” said National Heritage Fellow James F. Jackson in his letter of support. “He is a family man and a superb and patient teacher. I’ve always been impressed with his knowledge, profound experience and creativity.”

Founding TCAA member Chuck Stormes summed up Nate’s craft neatly in his recommendation letter, noting that his work is sought after by those who work with horses daily and by discerning collectors alike.


About the Montana Arts Council

In 1965 Montana Annotated Code 22-2-102 established the MAC as an agency of state government. The MAC mission is to develop the creative potential of all Montanans, advance education, spur economic vibrancy, and revitalize communities through involvement in the arts. Fifteen individuals appointed by the Governor oversee the Montana Arts Council. More information can be found at





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