Dave Williams is a Navy veteran who spends much of his free time painting, from portraits to beautiful scenery and much more. He moved to Plains in 2001 and recently completed the Galloping Herd of Horses depicted in paintings that had been hanging on the fence opposite the downtown area in Plains.
Williams got quite a surprise several weeks ago. He was contacted by a “veterans outreach organization” in Missoula. Members learned about Williams’ artistic talent, and reached out to him pertaining to an important project.
They heard about the Galloping Herd via a news story. “So I loaded up a bunch of horses (paintings) and drove down there (to Missoula),” Williams said Saturday. “About 60 veterans asked me if I could do a painting for them … I showed them a few of the images and they were really impressed.”
As it turned out, they wanted to have a painting done that featured President Donald Trump with Missoula features, since he was scheduled to make a visit to Missoula on Oct. 18 for a campaign rally.
He made it clear to the group that he is a “surrealist.”
“I stood there for 90 minutes and did a few sketches,” Williams said, and the group went through about five different sketches. “So I put the (selected) sketch to canvas and started painting.”
“They told me I would have to pass a background check to deliver the said painting (via Secret Service). They told me they intended to present the painting to President Trump — to take back to Washington, D.C., aboard Air Force One.
WILLIAMS ENLIS-TED help from Haylee Steinebach, a freshman at Plains High School, with the painting. That was largely due to his physical condition. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1980-84, and was “medically retired” — since he suffered a head injury that will have lifelong effects on his body.
“I’m a traumatic brain injury vet,” Williams explained, and Steinebach was happy to help with the painting depicting President Trump. “She is also an excellent artist herself. She helped all 20 months of the horse project … There were a lot of bruised fingers and repaints. She is my best ‘gal pal’ and the best assistant I’ve very had.”
“They asked me to represent Missoula as best that I could in the painting,” said Williams, who included the town’s features such as Sentinel Hill. He used gold, silver and copper paints to coincide with University of Montana school colors, plus a painted forest. The main feature in the painting is a depiction of the Afghanistan-Iraqi War Memorial on the UM campus.
After a detailed six-day project, the painting was complete and ready for delivery to the president. Roz Leighton, senior advisor to the Trump campaign, was on hand when the painting was finished.
“One of the reasons they asked me to do it was that I was a disabled vet,” said Williams, who has a seizure disorder.
DEPICTING PRESIDENT Trump is NOT an endorsement of the Republican Party by the veterans, but is a representation of our current president — their collective mindset to exercise your right to vote.
“I vote every election,” Williams said. “It doesn’t matter who you vote for, just get out and vote, please.”
On the back of the painted canvas, now in our nation’s capital, are signatures of Williams and Steinebach. “We will always be a part of history for our county,” he said.