|Montana Historical Society Museum collection|
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Artist Jack Beauchamp was born in Indiana in 1906. His family relocated to Fort Benton and later came to Helena where Beauchamp graduated from Helena High School. He studied art and painting, and during the Great Depression, Beauchamp won several competitions to paint murals in U.S. post offices. In 1941, he became the Helena Art Center director at Carroll College. While he was in Helena, Beauchamp’s art was often exhibited and locally coveted and collected. In the mid-1940s, he left Helena for wider markets in California and painted murals and portraits there until his death in 1956. One of his well-known projects was a series of historical murals painted for Kenny Egan in 1943 on the walls of Helena’s Mint Cigar Store and Tavern at 20 1/2 North Main Street. When the bar was later demolished, owners carefully removed the murals from the walls and stored them. In 1981, the Dennis and Vivian Connors family donated the murals to the Montana Historical Society. There they remained until an opportunity to display them came in 2003. The Commission Room in the City-County Building was undergoing restoration. Commissioners secured Helena artist Robert F. Morgan to create three paintings depicting local history. Jack Beauchamp’s murals were brought out of storage, cleaned, and hauled via crane through a fourth-story window.
Today the colorful murals of the two artists not only enhance the historic ambience of the Commission Room, but also tell a local story. When Jack Beauchamp was art director at Carroll College, Morgan was just beginning to study art and was his student. The work of the two acclaimed artists together, teacher and student, brings history full circle.