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When Dave Hall was 12 years old, his father, Vernon, taught him the principles of perspective on a dinner napkin, two lines converging at a point in the distance. 

Then, Vern was a civil engineer and architectural consultant, fascinated with the structures man could create. Many, many years later, after he retired in 1990, Vern would dedicate much of his free time to painting, with buildings his favorite subject. 

"My eye is attracted to building details, unusual shadows and other combinations of man-made objects," Vern wrote in an artist statement. 

Dave, now 65, wouldn't wait so long to devote his time to painting. He left a career as a high school physics teacher and administrator 15 years ago to pursue his dream. 

"At some point in your life, you realize you've got to do something and you've got to figure out how to do it," said Dave, who splits his time between homes in Ennis and Salt Lake City. 

Father and son both have shows opening during the Friday, June 12, Art Walk in downtown Bozeman. Dave will show at the A.Banks Gallery, Vern in a grain-elevator show at the Weber Room Gallery in the Emerson Center. 

"I never thought it would happen like this," Vern said. "It's very exciting."

Dave always considered his father an artist. Vern drew sports cartoons for his high school and college newspapers in New Hampshire. He was the go-to guy if someone needed a sketch for a poster. He dabbled in painting. 

Since his retirement, Vern, 92, has done somewhere between 400 and 450 paintings. Five years ago, however, he put the easel away to care for his wife who had Parkinson's disease, moving from a condo into a retirement community in Bozeman. His wife died in March 2014. When Vern said he will probably start painting again during his interview with the Chronicle, Dave's face finds some light. 

"That's good to hear," Dave said. 

Painting is in their blood. Dave and Vern aren't the first artists in the family. Vern's mother worked as an artist for 60 years. His great grandfather, Thomas H. Snow, was a sporting artist who lived from 1833 to 1908.

"The family had a liquor importing business in Boston, but his passions were hunting, fly fishing and painting," Dave said. "You grew up around it. I grew up around it. But we had different careers."

Both men's childhood homes were filled with art, often created by members of the family. 

"The wonderful part of what I feel in this, Dad, is the link to family, how much I've been influenced by you, your mother and Thomas H. Snow," Dave said. 

When Dave took to the canvas 17 years ago, he hung his own painting of a foggy scene near Cameron over the mantle, seeking Vern's opinion.

"Mom and dad came up for a few days and I knew dad would see it," Dave said. 

After a couple days, Vern decided to take a closer look, his nose right up to the frame. 

"Did you do that?" Vern asked.

"What do you think?" Dave replied with his own question. 

"Well, I like it a lot, but what's this impressionistic crap?" said Vern, who paints with attention to detail and a love for photorealism.

Vern would rather stick to buildings, though he has done some portraits of animals on commission. He prefers to work off photographs, like in the series of Montana grain elevators in the Emerson exhibit, many of which were painted from the photographs of fellow exhibitor Bruce Selyem. 

"If you said 'paint a bouquet of flowers,' I could not do it," Vern said. "But if you give me a photograph, I could do it. I'm as precise as I can be with detail."

Dave is drawn to contemporary art, citing Mark Rothko as an influence. His work is often landscapes inspired by Montana, but without identifying characteristics. A series of paintings called "The Rise," for example, are basically three bands. The top features a triangle slice of conifers with sky,the middle is grass and the bottom is water with reflections of the trees and horizontal lines that signify the trout rising.  

"I'm constantly pulled toward the abstract," Dave said. 

Though drastically different styles, Dave said his father's influence is there. 

"I have a horizontal quality to my landscapes I've gleaned from your interest in architecture and buildings," he said. 

It's all meadows and mountains, according to Vern.

"I said to him, 'Sometime you should paint something man made,'" Vern said. "He came back and said 'Look at this, Dad,' and in the foreground were 8 or 10 fence posts." 

Vern said his son has since painted a few more man-made items than the fenceposts.

"There aren't many," Dave said, "maybe a roof line in a snowstorm."

And Vern has painted people as well, doing portraits of "just about everyone in the family."

"They're not too bad," he said. 

"They're wonderful," Dave corrected. 

See the similar but different work of two generations of Hall men at the Art Walk on Friday, June 12. 

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Rachel Hergett can be reached at or at 406-582-2603. Hergett is on Twitter at @hergett.