Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

Arlene Hooker Fay
Arlene Hooker Fay was born in Great Falls on Nov. 21, 1933, to William and Esther Hooker. She lived her first five years on a farm outside Highwood, before moving to Great Falls. Arlene contracted polio in August 1948 just before her sophomore year and was confined to a wheelchair ever since. She graduated from Great Falls High School in 1951, taking classes on the first floor, as there was no elevator. She was an impressionistic painter of the Plains Indian specializing in portraiture. She began drawing as a child, painting a commissioned portrait at fifteen and had a painting reproduced at eighteen. Arlene used her talent in art as therapy while working at an office job. She worked as a medical secretary for a year and for two years as a secretary with the child welfare division of the Cascade County Welfare office, while painting portraits evenings and weekends. Arlene married Thomas M. Fay on Sept. 17, 1955, while he was stationed in Montana serving in the Air Force. He was transferred to Sacramento for a year and a half after which they returned to Montana. After the birth of their second child they moved to Bozeman where they lived for four years while Tom went to college. She took on various jobs (baby-sitting, telephone solicitation, sewing and alterations, and painting children's portraits). Their third child was born in Cut Bank where they lived for two years while Tom taught high school in Browning. Then they moved into Browning for two years and to Conrad for three years, where she continued her painting, wrote a weekly article for the newspaper, and gave piano lessons. After moving to Browning with her husband, she began doing Indian portraits and soon she was sought as a professional artist. She became noted for her warm portrayal of Indians and was inducted into the Blackfeet Tribe. Tom taught for a year in Jordan and then worked for Consolidated Freightways in Great Falls from 1971 until his retirement in 1995. Unable to volunteer in the community she donated much art to be sold for various charities including Bash (Building a Scholastic Heritage) for the College of Great Falls, the Gift of Life, Big Brothers and Sisters, St. Thomas Children's Home, the C.M. Russell Museum, the Ad Club for their scholarship program and food bank drive, and raffled two paintings for $7,500 which helped get the Crimestoppers program started in Montana. She was an award winning member and one of the founding members of the Northwest Rendezvous Group, a three time People's Choice Winner and a Best of Show Winner at the C. M. Russell Art Auction in Great Falls, Montana. In recent years she had experienced pain and rapidly increasing weakness from post-polio syndrome. Arlene Hooker Fay decided her own fate in 2001.
View high resolution images of works by Arlene Hooker Fay when available.