A New Fine Arts Tradition in Whitefish

The inaugural Summer ArtFest at Whitefish will feature live art demos and a silent auction

By Charlotte Bausch

Artists are traveling from across Montana and the Western U.S. to show their work at the inaugural Summer ArtFest at Whitefish this weekend.

The festival, which features meet-and-greets with artists, live art demos and a silent auction, aims to make Whitefish “a fine arts destination.”

Steve Cawdrey, the co-director of Summer ArtFest, decided to start the festival after a previous art show in Whitefish, which had raised money for the Whitefish community for a decade, ended last year. He wanted to create a new, community-focused event that would have a fine arts focus.

Cawdrey said the festival was inspired by previous art festivals and shows he’d seen in other communities, including one in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which has become a well-known event in the arts community. Cawdrey hopes to create a similar tradition in Whitefish. Like the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival, the Summer ArtFest will exclusively show fine art.

The festival aims to be “a community event for Whitefish,” said Cawdrey. Galleries across Whitefish will host shows or events for ArtFest, including Samarah Fine Art, Going to the Sun Gallery, Frame of Reference Gallery, and more. The event also has a charitable goal, with 10 percent of its proceeds going to the new ArtFest Scholarship Fund, a local scholarship serving Flathead Valley high schools.

In its first year, the festival will put on events throughout the weekend. Live demonstrations by several featured artists will give guests a view into the creative process, and Group B Gallery will host a photography workshop. Visitors will have the chance to meet artists at a cocktail party at Samarah Fine Art. The festival will end on Sunday with a silent auction run by Troy Black, at which guests can purchase their favorite pieces.

This year’s festival will set the stage for what’s to come. Cawdrey hopes to expand the event, which will occur annually, in subsequent years. In 2020, the ArtFest will host a much larger auction, with over 100 pieces, at the O’Shaughnessy Center.

The 2019 Summer ArtFest will run from Friday, June 28 to Sunday, June 30. For more information, go to the Summer ArtFest website at http://summerartfest.com/.