Photo of Ben Steele (left) and Joe Medicine Crow, World War II war veterans and famous Montana educators, at the Western Heritage Center in 2012.
Ben Steele survived being a prisoner of war for 3 ½ years during World War II. His most famous paintings and drawings depict the horrors of the Bataan Death March in April 1942, soon after the surrender of the U.S. on the main Philippine island of Luzon. After the War, Ben endured by becoming and remaining a prolific artist. He often said, “Art Saved My Life.”
Ben Steele was also a beloved art teacher at Eastern Montana College, now MSU Billings, and a lifelong friend to many Montana artists. Ben Steele Middle School in Billings honors his legacy. This exhibit shares the works of those who knew Ben and reveals how they knew him and in what way he influenced them. This is a remarkable story about an amazing man who influenced a generation of artists in Montana.