When it comes to their craft, many artists are often driven to contribute to society, usually with a conversation-starting piece or with a direct, tangible impact to the community around them.
For Whitefish painter Jane Latus Emmert, the chance to do both presented itself this year when she was asked to decorate a vintage trailer used by one of the members of the traveling group Sisters on the Fly.
“It’s really fun to have a canvas that big,” Emmert said in an interview last week.
On Sept. 14, the public will be able to see Emmert’s artwork as well as that of many other artists at a new community event called Fish the Fish, taking place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the base lodge at Whitefish Mountain Resort.
Fish the Fish is a fundraiser for Casting for Recovery, which is a national nonprofit that provides opportunities for women who have been affected by breast cancer to connect with nature through fly fishing.
Locally, Casting for Recovery puts on a fishing retreat in West Glacier for breast cancer survivors.
Fish the Fish is organized by the Whitefish Knotty Nymphs, a group of women who are passionate about fly fishing and the Flathead community. The Sept. 14 event will include myriad fly-fishing activities, including a casting contest, as well as a cookout with hamburgers and hot dogs, and beer from the Ninkasi Brewing Company.
Exhibitors at the event will include Simms, Sage, Scott, Lakestream Outfitters, Spotted Bear Ranch, Flathead Valley Trout Unlimited and more. There will also be a raffle, with the grand prize of a Spotted Bear Ranch fly-fishing trip valued at $2,300.
Money raised from Fish the Fish will go toward sending local breast cancer survivors to West Glacier for a Casting for Recovery trip.
The 60-plus trailers that will be on display are the homes of the members of Sisters on the Fly, which boasts a national membership of about 4,000 women who have bonded through fly fishing, fixing up their trailers and heading out on “exceptional adventures.”
Emmert said a local woman contacted her and asked her to paint her fixed-up vintage trailer. The resulting design is based entirely on a Glacier National Park theme, Emmert noted, including a woman fly fishing, a sign post pointing out various trails, mountain goats, and the trailer’s name, DragOn Fly.
The trailers all feature unique designs, and are more than just pieces of art.
“This is how they travel,” Emmert said. “This is their little home.”
Emmert said she was pleased to support the Sisters on the Fly because she is an avid angler herself, and works as a fly fishing instructor for Casting for Recovery. Working with the breast cancer survivors is a rewarding and humbling experience, she said.
“A lot of these ladies, once they are done with chemo, they don’t want anything to do with a support group or a hospital,” Emmert said.
But gathering for a weekend with relative strangers who have gone through similar experiences draws the group close, and working in nature has its healing effects as well. It’s fun, there’s fresh air, and the physical act of casting the fly rod helps with strengthening their bodies, she said.
They also learn new skills that help drive home the message of the fresh possibilities in life, Emmert said. Like how she learned to paint and draw at age 30 and then became an artist, Emmert believes the desire to learn something new can lead to unexpected places.
As for the Fish the Fish event, Emmert will be on hand to volunteer, and said she is excited to look at the other trailer designs and chat with the Sisters on the Fly.
“You never know, I might just be inspired to join myself,” she said.
For more information on Fish the Fish, visit www.fishthefish2013.com. For more information or to donate to Casting for Recovery, visit www.castingforrecovery.org. For information on Jane Latus Emmert, visit www.montanajaneart.com.
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