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Debut Kalispell Show to Promote Local Artists

By Beacon Staff

When she turned 37 years old, Cathi Spence decided to do something about the piles of blank canvasses she had collected over the years.

The reason was simple, she said. The thought just struck her while she was sorting her art supplies.

“Maybe I should start painting,” she remembered thinking in June.

Now, most of those canvasses are full of color, with bright paintings of cherries, birds, sheep and flowers. Spence said she had another “can-do” revelation in June while walking her dog with her friend.

She envisioned an art show for new artists in the valley to connect with each other and the public in the late summer, as well as a place for local residents to feel less isolated. Spence said she enjoys the other summer art shows in the area, but felt that a change of scenery was necessary.

“I’m tired of all the shows looking the same – the same people in the same spots year after year,” Spence said.

Like the canvasses in her workshop, Spence decided to do something about it. The result is the “Think Local” art show, taking place on the Kalispell courthouse lawn Aug. 28 through Aug. 30.

The show is about diversity and community support, Spence said, with the hope that a weekend of fun and interaction could be a salve for the recession’s effect on Kalispell residents.

“I think people are looking for some happiness,” Spence said as she sat in her workshop, paintbrush in hand.

Janelle Buchanan, the event’s co-founder, said she hopes the juried show will be as “fabulous” as other summer shows in the valley, but with the bonus of new and different artists.

“(Some shows) never up their standards, or have new ideas or new people to add, or new art forms to add,” Buchanan said. The show is supposed to be a welcoming place for artists, Buchanan said, and she hopes to accommodate their needs.

Betty Kijewski, a photographer from St. Mary, said she felt very welcomed when she signed on for the show. She said she liked the idea of a show in Kalispell in late August, but especially the idea of a local focus.

Most of the excitement at art shows comes from interacting with the public, Kijewski said. She said she understands how hard the recession has hit people in Montana and that just chatting with them about art is great, “whether they plunk down their hard-earned cash or not.”

Spence said along with some familiar faces at the show, there will be new artists with handbags made from recycled materials, jewelry made from old National Geographic magazines and hand-woven rugs. She said there should be about 50 artists total.

But as important as the exposure to new art is, Spence said she hopes the show also promotes community togetherness. If more people think local, she said, Kalispell could ward off some of the effects of the recession. It was in this spirit that she asked businesses around town to display “Think Local” on their reader boards.

“It’s not necessarily promoting our show,” Spence said. “It’s promoting the idea that we all need to be thinking about each other.”

Another important reason to start a new art show is the timing, Spence said. Artists who depend on these events for their livelihood can start feeling stretched when the shows end in August with none in sight until October, she said.

Spence will be at the show, exhibiting her colorful creations. While she worked on them in her workshop, she surveyed her canvasses and described how they would look against white curtains on the courthouse lawn.

“They make people smile,” Spence said. “That’s what I like about them.”

The art show will include food from local vendors and acoustic music. It begins Friday at 10 a.m. and runs until 7 p.m., continuing on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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