Sally McIntosh, Director of the Ryniker-Morrison Gallery, 406.259.6563,
RMC media team, 406.657.1105,

Photos: Alice Ryniker’s current watercolor display (top), Alice Ryniker (bottom) photo courtesy of the Ryniker family

Tribute to former RMC art professor Alice Ryniker – 101 years old and still painting

Ryniker Watercolors

BILLINGS, March 24, 2015 – In honor of former RMC Art Professor Alice Ryniker, RMC’s Ryniker-Morrison Art Gallery is currently featuring a unique exhibit that includes nine watercolor paintings recently painted by Ryniker. “Painting is what keeps me alive,” said Ryniker, who will celebrate her 102nd birthday this year and continues to paint on a regular basis.

"Rocky Mountain College recognized incredible talent and intelligence when they asked Alice Ryniker back in the 1950s to teach two art classes,” said Sally McIntosh, the Director of the Ryniker-Morrison Gallery. “Her influence is still felt today, 60 years later, in the Fine Art Department. Countless students have been influenced by her and many continue to seek her critique of their art."

Ryniker began the art program at Rocky Mountain College in 1952, teaching two classes that first year. As the program grew and became a major, Ryniker said, “We need another art professor, and I want Bob Morrison.” Robert Morrison joined Ryniker in 1967, and together they taught art to students for more than 20 years. In May 2006, the gallery in RMC’s Technology Hall was renamed the Ryniker-Morrison Gallery in honor of the hard work and dedication of Ryniker and Morrison.

Alice RynikerRyniker was born in Billings, Mont., and said she was born to be an artist. “I can remember making paper dolls as a small child,” said Ryniker, describing how she has loved art since she was a toddler. She studied art with well-known artists of the area and also traveled to Europe to study.

“One of my most wonderful memories was meeting Picasso in the airport at Nice, France,” said Ryniker. “I was with a group of 37 fellow art students for a workshop and I thought he wouldn’t give us the time of day. But he graciously signed all of our sketchbooks.” 

Ryniker also explained how she grew up near the Crow Indians, and has a deep love and appreciation for their customs and culture. As part of obtaining her Master’s degree from Eastern Montana College, Ryniker wrote and illustrated a book about the Crow Indians titled, “Eagle Feather For a Crow,” which was published in 1980.

In her book, Ryniker told the story about a young Crow Indian boy, Charley Little Otter, who grew up in the Pryor Mountains of Montana in 1898. Ryniker’s illustrations captured the lives of the Crow Indians, from the adventures of Charley racing the antelopes to him seeing the Ghost Dance on Medicine Mountain Hill.

In 1977, Ryniker retired as Professor Emeritus in Art from Rocky Mountain College, after teaching for 23 years. However, her love and passion for art continues to this day, as her steady hand continues to paint intricate watercolor paintings. Ryniker explained how teaching the joy of art has been an important part of her life.

“Art has always been my ‘fun’ in life,” said Ryniker. “Through art, you see the world in a different way. And there are so many beautiful things around us.”

Ryniker’s watercolor paintings will be on display through April 2, 2015, at the Ryniker-Morrison Gallery. The exhibit is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. 

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