Arts & Entertainment

Art with a Brew

‘Better Late Than Never Art Show’ opens at Great Northern Brewing Company in Whitefish

In many ways, the pairing makes sense: a collection of diverse art hanging on the walls of a brewery while patrons sit nearby sipping on local beers as they discuss the merits of the work around them.

Replace the brewery with an art gallery, and you’d have a typical opening night showcasing the artist’s creativity and spirit. But local artists Max Konopatzke and Collin Hamman figured if folks could be comfortable sipping drinks while looking at art on the walls of a building, why not have that building be a brewery?

Thus, the “Better Late Than Never Art Show,” featured at the Great Northern Brewing Company in Whitefish, was born. The show includes work from Konopatzke, Hamman, Derek Snodgrass, and April Werle.

Konopatzke got in touch with some of his artist friends, Hamman said, and decided to put together the show, better late than never, in 2017. They held an official reception for the art show on Dec. 27, and Hamman said the response was heartening.

“It’s a bit unconventional to have an art show in a brewery — that was the fun part about it,” Hamman said. “Everyone had pints of beer.”

Hamman, a Flathead-based artist, said his pieces take their inspiration from the seemingly infinite ways that nature presents its own beauty.

“My art personally, it’s basically all inspired by the natural world around me and the kind of adventures I get to go on,” he said. “I like to reveal hidden perspectives.”

It’s one thing to like to create said art, and another to put it on the walls and have people consider it over a brew, he said. But any jitters he may have felt prior to the show melted away at the reception party for the show, at which Hamman sold many of his pieces.

“It was probably my best show,” he said.

It was such a success that Hamman felt inspired to take a trip deep into the woods the weekend after the opening in search of more snowy trees to paint.

Snodgrass and Werle are Missoula-based artists, and Werle wasn’t able to make it for the opening night. Snodgrass works with mixed media, and also finds inspiration for his work on various adventures, here and abroad. His influences include mountains and rivers, and his work shows abstract forms of layered drip paintings.

Werle is a Montana native and world traveler whose colorful, mixed-media and paint collages often explore what it means to belong. Brightly hued and layered, Werle’s work also looks at what it means to be biracial, and the idea of what is real and what isn’t.

Konopatzke, who is also known for his skateboarding, creates pieces with mixed media, including painting and sketching. Altogether, the artists created a show providing plenty of food for thought for brewery patrons, Hamman said.

Seeing people wander in and discover the art was what Hamman considered the best aspect of the evening, because it meant residents and visitors were connecting with local artists’ work.

Sitting with friends, drinking beer, and discussing the merits of art is already a favorite pastime of theirs, Hamman said of the group of artists. But now, with the show, more people can partake.

“That was the main success about it,” he said.