Rankin grew up in Montana and received an MFA at the University of Montana. He did postgraduate work at Montana State University, studying primarily printmaking, painting and sculpture. His career as an art teacher and professor began in Alaska in 1964, with one of his notable students being artist Wes Mills. Since 1985, he has devoted his life to painting full-time. He began exhibiting at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington in the late 1950s and is included in the permanent collections of Viterbo College in LaCrosse, Wisconsin; Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, Montana; the Pritchard Gallery in Moscow, Idaho; and the Missoula Art Museum in Missoula, Montana.

Rankin’s eclecticism marries a selection of energized forms and colors to create an image of the West at once regional and universal, which Rankin describes as a “connective thread tying me to the West – or to the world.” Highly conceptual, Rankin’s work is related to music-metaphorically rhythmic, exploring the pause which exists between colors or forms and relies on repeated themes and images.

In the 1980s, Rankin was featured in a touring exhibition across the Szechuan Province in China and has been the recipient of Museum and Art Gallery Directors Association Traveling Arts Grants in 1995 and 2000, the latter of which hosted a touring retrospective of his work. A partial assemblage of Rankin’s exhibitions can be seen below.

Early Installations

  • Installation US 93 was picked up by MAGDA in 1986 as a tri-state traveling show.
  • The second installation was also selected by MAGDA: Palace Hotel (1992) and toured to larger Montana galleries.  The video was recorded by Freeman Butts in 1992 at the Holter Museum in Helena, MT.
  • Publication: “Combining the Etching Collagraph Process, an Experiment” 1972, University of Montana
  • University of Montana Exchange program;  2 drawings, Sechuan Province, 1976
  • Montana Sketchbook, (2 drawings) Montana Institute of the Arts, 1989
  • Artists Speak, a Primer for Understanding Contemporary Art, Suzanne Donnelly, Montana Cultural Trust, 1990
  • First place: Sculpture Invitational, Paris Gibson Square, 1978 (Judge, Robert Head, Dept of Art, Murray State, Kentucky)
  • Northern Rockies, New Visions:  Fourteen regional artists (Yellowstone Art Center, 1994)
  • Retrospective, University of Montana, 1996
  • Jerry Rankin: Recent Works, Missoula Art Museum 2002
  • Three Exhibits, Aunt Dofe’s Hall of Recent Memory, Willow Creek Mt (2006,2009, and 2015)
  • Curator, Pershing Hall Gallery, Northern Mt. State College, 1982-83
  • Performance Viterbo college,  La Crosse, WI, 1989
  • Visiting Artist in Residence,  Viterbo College, La Crosse, WI, 1995
  • From the Inside Out – Seven charcoal drawings at the Missoula Art Museum, MT.  May 10, 2017
  • The Lela Autio Collection, Missoula Art Museum, May 10, 2017
  • Aunt Dofe’s Gallery, Whitehall, MT.  September 2022

Permanent Collections

  • Paris Gibson Squre, Great Falls, MT
  • Missoula Museum of Art, Missoula, MT
  • Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
  • Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman, MT
  • Yellowstone Art Center, Billings, MT
  • Viterbo College, La Crosse, WI
  • Pritchard Museum, Moscow, ID
  • Meadowlark Foundation, Billings, MT
  • Paul and Judith Larsen, Bainbidge Island, WA
  • Mary and James Ferolo, Dixon, IL

News & Updates

Series: “Golden Sunlight”

A series of seven pieces, “Golden Sunlight” has been delivered as a traveling show in areas across the Northwest United States.

Upcoming Exhibitions at Aunt Dofe’s: Jerry Rankin/Joop de Meij | August 20th, 2021

Aunt Dofe’s is ready to return to the joy of art. It is time — carefully, considerately, happily — to come back to life.

Jerry Rankin/Joop de Meij : August 20th

Jerry Rankin

Artist Statement

As a Montana artist I continue to share my exploration of the allegorical landscape in its various dimensional perceptions: its oscillations and horizons, its chromatic and tectonic shifts, and the analogy between sound and geographic space.


I was born in 1934, raised in Montana, and graduated from Montana State and the University of Montana (MFA) with degrees in painting and printmaking. My careers have included teaching, associate professor, graphic artist and professional artist. My work is in permanent collections at YAM, MAM, Museum of ART and Culture and Viterbo College in Wisconsin. I’ve been awarded two Montana Art Gallery Director (MAGDA) grants for traveling exhibits and a 30 year retrospective at the University of Montana. Examples of my work can be seen at my website: rankinart.com.

Joop de Meij

Standing on my toes, I gazed into the deep bubbling pot of sausage and potatoes my mother was cooking while I listened to family stories. So many of their conversations centered around their scarring war experience in Holland right before I was born.

These frightening stories knotted up in my stomach while fueling my imagination. Fortunately, I had an understanding father, an artist and a teacher, who brought me to museums and showed me ways of seeing through my uncomfortable world.

Life was filled with smells too strong, images too vivid and classes too dull. At 19 years old, I entered an experimental art school, Ateliers 63, in Haarlem Holland. Everyone’s imagination was alive with a sense of exploration. It was here, while painting, that I met my first wife, who came from Bear Canyon, Montana via Minneapolis School of Art.

Immigrating to Montana was a wild experience in the 1970’s. The Vietnam war was hanging over us and my draft number was close to being called. I was threatened with a sheep shear haircut by those angry at my long hair, while at the same time I found a vibrant community of artists to work with.

Bear Canyon gave me room to explore without pressure. Meeting Jerry Rankin was a gift. Together we appreciated the safety that nature offered and shared the complexities of isolation and creativity that the canyon offered us. We absorbed the beauty, raged at the darkness, and knew we were not alone.

Finding free chunks of cottonwood right outside my door changed my direction from painting to sculpture. Wood has remained my art medium and my companion, as I live surrounded by thousands of trees.

Sometimes it takes me years to finish a piece. I put components of non-working artwork aside until a better idea comes to me. Then I reconfigure, change colors, or add an item until it is complete. Often, I end up with a sculpture that is completely different from the original idea. A puzzle must be present in order for me to stay interested in the piece.

Images of pipes, combs and fruit come into my artwork through influences of Magritte’s artwork and childhood memories. Added to these are the current conditions of climate change and the reappearance of fascism, demanding my response.

The golden pipe hints at a gift of sharing, a sacred cow, and a sensual opening. An asteroid next to a bar of soap describes time. The arrogance of Hitler’s hat becomes a crown of stolen life. The feminine form of a large pear painted black is a mother that can no longer feed us.

I am surrounded by the seductive belief that change is impossible: too difficult to attempt. Is transformation possible, or are we again approaching a Last Supper?

For more information I can be reached at joop.demeij@gmail.com

Email: info@auntdofegallery.com
Phone number: (406) 570-6986
Aunt Dofe’s Gallery is located at 102 Main St. Willow Creek, Montana 59760

Email: info@auntdofegallery.com
Phone number: (406) 570-6986
Aunt Dofe’s Gallery is located at 102 Main St. Willow Creek, Montana 59760

Photos from Stoplight Gallery Opening

Stoplight Gallery Artist Reception: Jerry Rankin

Please join us for a reception featuring Montana artist Jerry Rankin on Saturday, March 10, from 1 to 4 PM. Refreshments will be served. His exhibit will run March 3 through March 31 at the gallery, which is open daily from 11 AM to 8 PM, and located adjacent to Smelter City Brewing.