50 Artists to Watch: Donald F. Montileaux

Donald F. Montileaux is a master ledger artist, who doesn’t let his success keep him from exploring and creating in new ways.

Montileaux was born in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. He attended college in Spearfish, SD and received formal art training at the Institute of American Indian Art, in Santa Fe, NM.  Montileaux interned under famed artist Oscar Howe at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion in 1964 and 1965.  He also credits his personal friend and mentor, the late noted hide painter Herman Red Elk, as his primary artistic muse.

These influences and his own drive have taken his art on a dramatic journey. With work spanning the globe and numerous awards and commissions to date, Montileaux still isn’t slowing down.

The artist spends a significant amount of time working with youth in school settings. “Activities this year include school presentations/workshops about me as an artist, my work, and my books at Piedmont Valley Elementary; an interview for a film documentary produced by fourth-grade students at Red Cloud and Our Lady of Lourdes; and a jigsaw puzzle project by fourth-grade students at Rockyford School, with the students own artwork on ledger paper in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of National Parks,” wrote Montileaux.

You have plenty of opportunities to see Montileaux’s work throughout South Dakota this year. This summer, Montileaux has work in the 48th Annual Red Cloud Indian Art Show at the Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School. He was also selected to show in the Governor’s 7th Biennial Art Exhibition, which opens at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City, Aug. 19 and will tour the state. In September, he’ll be at the Northern Plains Indian Art Market in Sioux Falls, Sept. 17-18, and then he’ll be a featured artist in the “Horse Nation Exhibit,” premiering at the Heritage Center, Sept. 22. He’s also slated for a solo exhibition at the Washington Pavilion Visual Arts Center in Sioux Falls opening in December 2017.

Montileaux’s work can always be seen and purchased at Prairie Edge Fine Art Gallery in Rapid City and in Sioux Falls at NV Studio and Post Pilgrim Gallery, where he’s represented.

In addition to these projects, Montileaux has also illustrated several books. Tasunka, A Lakota Horse Legend is one that he told and illustrated. It’s printed in both English and Lakota.  The book won four national awards – the Mom’s Choice Award, the Moonbeam Award, the Aesop Award, and the coveted Western Writers of America 2015 Spur Award. It can be purchased through the South Dakota State Historical Society Press and at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, as well as at several booksellers throughout South Dakota.

Another lifetime achievement is the honor of being a 2014 inductee into the South Dakota Hall of Fame.

To keep up with this inspiring, energetic artist follow Montileaux Art on Facebook.


50 Artists to Watch is a special project we’re embarking on in celebration of our 50th anniversary at the South Dakota Arts Council. This series of short artist features is intended to share the work of South Dakota artists on a wide platform. It is not intended as a list of top or best artists. It is not presented in any particular order. Featured artists are being selected from nominations sent to us. You can nominate an artist by emailing sdac@state.sd.us. We can’t include them all, but we’ll keep all nominations on a list for future features and blogs.

We welcome your continued suggestions for 50 Artists to Watch and your (constructive) comments about the work of those being featured.




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