Zach Babat. Artist, Bush Pilot, Guide, Outdoorsman Extraordinaire
Zach Babat was tragically killed in an airplane that he was piloting in Alaska in 2016. While he was taken from us far too soon, he left a large, enduring legacy of paintings which, we’re confident, will stand the test of time.
Zach was a professional artist and Alaskan bush pilot. He split his time between Montana and Alaska, the two states he loved the most. Zach was drawn to the outdoors from early childhood. His family had a cottage on a trout stream where he learned fly fishing, and also became fascinated with tying his own artistically realistic flies. His first job, while still in high school, was working at an Orvis Company’s fly fishing store. Some of his beautiful flies were sold at the Orvis store where he was mentored by some of the fly fishing staff. After graduating high school, Zach worked as a fishing guide at a guest ranch in the upper Madison River in Montana, which remained his spiritual home. That is where he met his future wife
After guiding in Montana, he decided to relocate to Alaska where he nurtured his fierce love of nature. Flying called to him and Zach obtained a commercial pilot’s license. One of his true passions was to fly Piper Super Cubs in the Alaskan Bush from the Brooks Range to the Alaskan Peninsula. He would fly low over the magnificent waters of Alaska so that biologists could photograph and count the schools of fish.
The time he spent outdoors surrounded by wildlife and nature compelled him to paint with a unique perspective into animal behaviors. The animals captivated and inspired him. He painted scenes he witnessed from memory, not pictures, creating his own style to tell their stories. Zach said, “It is the close interaction with the wildlife and observing their personalities that I try to capture, not just the fins, horns, claws and teeth.”
Zach used watercolor paint, both transparent and opaque, to bring the animals and fish to life. He perfected the use of canvas board for his paintings, which eliminated the need for glass. Often people viewing his original artwork don’t realize they are watercolor because of the vividness of the colors and lack of glass.
In 2020, the Zach Babat Memorial Art Scholarship/Grant Foundation was created from an endowment in his memory.
CM Russell Art Auction (CM Russell Museum): The Russell is recognized as one of the most prestigious and longest running Western art events in the country. Over 1,200 artists apply to be a part of the show but only the top 300 artists are selected based on technical ability and appeal. Zach had art selected for the auction in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Phippen Western Art Show (Phippen Museum): Juried art show with low turnover and limited spots for new artists. Zach was juried into the show in 2016
Night of Artists (The Briscoe Western Art Museum): an exclusive art show, wait list for artists and Zach was on the list.
National Wildlife Art Museum: Zach was one of the few artists accepted into the Plein Air every June to raise funds for the museum.
Copper Village Museum Art Show: Zach was juried into this show every year.
Clymber Museum Art Show: Zach was juried into this show every year, and his artwork was chosen for the promotional materials in 2014
Montana Fly Fishing Magazine: http://mtflyfishmag.com/archive-3/2013-2/
Distinctly Montana: https://www.distinctlymontana.com/zach-babats-art-personal-vision
2010 First Place Watercolor Western Heritage Art Show and Sale
2010 Media Choice Western Heritage Art Show and Sale
2012 Annual National Art Show and Auction Kinney Family Wildlife Award, Ellensburg, WA
2014 Missouri River Flyfishers Art Auction Best of Show