Barbara Van Cleve photography

Born on a ranch in the Crazy Mountains, Barbara Van Cleve has spent 70 years photographing wide-open spaces and their inhabitants. An exhibit of her work is coming to the Two Rivers Gallery in Big Timber, with a reception set for Oct. 27. 

Barbara Van Cleve

BIG TIMBER — Two Rivers Gallery is presenting an exhibit of the iconic photographs by Barbara Van Cleve, with an opening reception Friday, Oct. 27 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The show will run through Nov. 22. It spans her photographic career and showcases her passion for ranch life in the West.

Van Cleve, who lives in Big Timber, tells her stories in black and white photographs that speak to the mind and heart. Also available during the exhibit will be copies of her new book titled "Pure Quill: Photographs by Barbara Van Cleve," published in 2017 by University of New Mexico Press. In the vernacular of the West, the term pure quill means "authentic, real, through and through."

Born and raised on a working cattle and horse ranch in Montana's Crazy Mountains, Van Cleve has focused her lens for 70 years on land and sky, and the men, women and animals who animate it. In riveting compositions and captivating textures, her photographs dispel the Hollywood myths associated with the West, while conveying its true adventure and vibrant personalities.

"Just give me my horse and saddle, some great open country, cattle and working cattle people, and I'll do my work quietly, in all conditions, from pure perfection to rain, mud, dust and freezing blizzards," she says of her photographs made on locations throughout the West, many of which were taken from horseback," she said.

"Pure Quill: Photographs by Barbara Van Cleve" has won six awards, one of which is the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum granting the book the Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Photography Book.

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Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.