Hephaestus of the Plains 48 x 30 inch Original Painting


Original 48 x 30 inch painting. Acrylic on Canvas

Free pick up or delivery for South Central Montana residents (or transients). Enter the discount code LOCAL at checkout.

When my grandfather was seven he spent most of his time working at the Bry Boarding House, which was normal for the era and people were generally at ease around young children with jobs. He’d keep the fires going and help the cook prepare supper and sometimes evict guests. One time a man threw him down the stairs when my grandfather asked him to pack up, but my grandfather always said it was the best job he ever had.

My grandfather fondly remembered a boarder at the house named Mr. Petter. Petter used to own a tobacco shop, but it was burned down as a cruel prank and my grandfather said Petter was always down in the dumps after that. Following the fire, Petter briefly lived with his brother’s family in White Sulphur Springs, but moved to the boarding house after he’d lowered the spirits of his nieces and nephews so substantially his brother and sister-in-law feared they would never recover.

Between fits of despair, Petter would fantasize about rebuilding his tobacco shop, which was widely understood to be impossible given his lack of funds and credit. He frequently told my grandfather that one day he’d own a genuine Cigar Store Indian sculpted by Caleb Lindberg, the “Hephaestus of the Plains.”

Reportedly, Lindberg possessed more knowledge of the region’s indigenous people than anyone and had one of the largest buffalo skull collections in eastern Montana. His Cigar Store Indians were impressively authentic sculptures, yet prohibitively expensive for most locals.

When my grandfather turned eleven, he and Mr. Petter forged a new friendship based on alcohol, and my grandfather recalled Mr. Petter’s childlike behavior after a long night of drinking. He said they’d laugh and flatten pennies on the railroad track and try to find themselves in the constellations, which my grandfather never could, but Petter always insisted he could plainly see.

Eventually Petter lost his speech and the use of both legs after a failed hanging attempt. He moved back in with his brother, who welcomed him this time around, because his injuries prevented him from continuously rambling about his miserable lot in life.