Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

Harvey Eckert

On a warm and cooling evening, I had the good fortune to step into the Madison River with a man I had known about for almost thirty years. He slowly edged forward through the water and paid particular time to associate me with his river. Carefully and prudently he would comment about this riffle, the lay of the river as to his kinship and friendship with this wonderful resource.

The person I am referring to is Harvey Eckert. For many years he became known for just his complimentary illustrations to a little newsletter entitled "The River Rat" by George F. Grant. During those many years of countless illustrations, he became known in the trout worlds with such notables as Dan Bailey, Bud Lilly, Dave Whitlock, Ernest Schweibert, Bob Jacklin, and of course, George F. Grant. His illustrations have included "Montana Trout Flies" by George F. Grant; "The Master Fly Weaver" by George F. Grant; and "Caddisflies" by Gary LaFontaine. They have also published his work in Fly Fisherman Magazine, Rod and Reel Magazine, Fly Fisher Magazine, United Fly Tyers Magazine, Fly Tyer Magazine, Montana Outdoors Magazine, and Fishing World Magazine. He has done countless hours for the Federation of Fly Fisherman as to advertising scenarios. Harvey Eckert designed the hat pin and poster in 1986 for the Federation of Fly Fisherman Conclave.

I would like to say something along the lines of romanticism as to Harvey Eckert. He was "born on a mountaintop in Tennessee . . . " which is a long way from Great Bend, Kansas on November 27, 1946. Harvey was raised in Larned, Kansas graduating from high school and received a Bachelor of Arts from Wichita State University in Literature and Creative Writing. He also received an Associate Degree in English from Colby Community College in Colby, Kansas. Later he also graduated in Civil Engineering from the Vocational Technical School in Butte, Montana.

After two years in the U. S. Army, he went back to Kansas briefly to attend about a year of college and then a year out at Colorado. Harvey worked for the Bureau of Reclamation as a surveyor. After going back to college, he finished out his degrees and moved to Belgrade, Montana. For a brief time he worked as the dairy manager for Safeway. Then he went to Butte and worked for Bob Ward and Sons for about one year. A short stint to West Yellowstone was where he worked for the Hamilton Stores and the Stagecoach Inn in the winter as a desk clerk.

George Grant told him that Fran Johnson's Sport Shop was looking for someone in 1976. Harvey stayed there with them until 1981. After that he spent three years on his art until 1984 and then moved to Ennis, Montana. He then got a job with the City of Ennis eventually retiring. Harvey passed away in January of 2018. glt

**This following article is reproduced, but without the direct permission of George F. Grant, yet I feel that he would not have a problem with it. glt

A Deserving, Somewhat Belated Tribute To Harvey Eckert, Artist, Flyfisherman, Environmentalist
by George F. Grant

The value of art work in a publication such as the "River Rat" is beyond estimate. It is like adding sound and narrative to a good slide show. It enlivens the drab printed page and transports the reader's mind to similar scenes and experiences. When it is done by a superb artist who is also a dedicated fly fisherman the result is realism and authenticity. When it is done with enthusiasm and without compensation it borders on the incredible.

Readers of the "River Rat" need no formal introduction to Harvey Eckert for his line drawings and sketches have animated its pages for the past several years. I am sure, however, that many of them would like to know more about this native Kansan with a degree in literature from Wichita State University, who is now taking a non accredited post graduate course in trout stream entomology on Montana's famous Big Hole River.

Harvey got his first taste of wild country trout fishing on the streams of Colorado, but later, writers like Joe Brooks and fly tyers like Dan Bailey kindled a growing interest in the renowned trout waters of Montana to such an extent that he felt compelled to take up residence in this part of the country.

His first stop was in Livingston, attracted there by the Dan Bailey legend, the story book Yellowstone, and the fabulous spring creeks. He hoped to establish himself in some capacity with one of the many tackle shops of the area, but his timing was off and he was forced to move on to Butte, accompanied by his wife and three year old daughter. He is now a valued employee of the Fran Johnson Sports Shop, and Livingston's loss is Butte's gain.

Harvey says, "I'm an illustrator, — not an artist," and while this may be technically correct statement, I would have to disagree along with scores of others. The "River Rat" goes not only to members of TU (Trout Unlimited) in Montana but it also reaches readers in almost every state. I receive letters from all over the country in connection with the publication and few fail to contain an appreciative comment on his art work.

In addition to his artistic leanings, Harvey is also a dedicated fly fisher and a concerned environmentalist. His sketches reflect a love of nature and a serious study of the trout and aquatic insects that he so faithfully portrays. His tireless in his quest for self satisfaction:

"I really do a lot of studying on a subject. I use a microscope and read. I take photographs of insects in their natural habitat. This helps me do a better job.l"

Harvey did an outstanding job for me in illustrating an article I wrote for the "Roundtable," official publication of the United Fly Tyers of Boston, and more recently has done a series of drawings for Gary LaFontaine (author of Challenge of the Trout) in which he depicted various stages of development of the caddis from nymph to adult. Many of his drawings in the "River Rat" are reprinted across the country in club and chapter newsletters, and both he and I are pleased to see this done.

"A Refreshing Moment"
with Havey and Patsy Eckert

View high resolution images of works by Harvey Eckert when available.