Book: Call of the Wild

In the staid, contemplative world of fine art, humor isn’t just out of place—it’s a social crime of the highest order. After all, we are told, the purpose of art is to transcend the ephemeral, to create a portal through which we can gaze, if only slightly, on the deeper meanings of life. Cheap laughs would only trivialize and betray this lofty ambition, right?

Wrong, says Livingston artist Parks Reece, whose first published collection, Call of the Wild: The Art of Parks Reece, doggedly defies the earnest traditions of the art establishment. Reece does have serious training—he’s a graduate of the prestigious San Francisco Art Institute—but he insists on having fun, too. For 20 years, the inimitable artist has merged wry humor, penetrating insight, and dazzling technical skill to produce a body of art that is at once amusing and astounding—not to mention completely and wonderfully irreverent. Call of the Wild compiles 114 of Reece’s best paintings and lithographs, along with poignant tributes by local writers Tim Cahill, Scott McMillion, and Parks’s son, Myers Reece. Bozeman’s own Resident Irreverent, Greg Keeler, contributed five sonnets to the book. All of them mirror Reece’s self-described style of "adding levity to gravity."

Amid surreal, dappled backdrops, Reece’s subjects incorporate his wholly unique vision of the natural world. In "Grizzly Tools," a bear carries two beavers toward a tree in which a human has taken refuge. "After the Spawn" depicts a pair of beautifully rendered rainbow trout smoking cigarettes. And my personal favorite, "A Snowball’s Chance in Hell," shows a cooler set among the roaring flames of the underworld.

Call of the Wild has already drawn high praise from the local literati, including art critic William Hjortsberg, author Jim Harrison, and artist Russell Chatham. Guaranteed to keep you laughing throughout, the book can be purchased at local bookstores, online at, or directly from Riverbend Publishing, 866-787-2363. For more information about Parks Reece, check out