Sharing Art While Staying Home

Galleries, museums and studios are adjusting to social distancing by using online platforms and curbside service to keep the art community engaged

By Maggie Dresser
Jessica Inez Studio Manager and Events Coordinator of Stumptown Art Studio prepares art kits on March 25, 2020. The studio is offering art-to-go kits in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

After art venues in the Flathead shut their doors to help curb the spread of coronavirus, directors and business owners in the community have devised creative ways to spread art in the valley and beyond.

Here’s what some local venues are doing.

Stumptown Art Studio

In downtown Whitefish, Jessica Inez and Melanie Drown at Stumptown Art Studio are selling to-go art kits for adults and kids looking to keep the creative juices flowing during times of social distancing.

Individuals can pre-order a kit, which includes a ceramic shape, paint colors of their choice and paintbrushes, which Inez and Drown deliver curbside outside the studio.

Once the ceramic pieces are finished, the artist can drop off their work behind the studio in a drop box, which will be fired in the kiln.

“We’re trying to adapt,” Inez said.

Inez and Drown are taking careful precautions to limit the coronavirus spread and keep contact to a minimum. Since the nonprofit studio itself is closed, they have locked both the front and back doors to prevent people from wandering inside, and only credit card transactions over the phone are accepted. They’ve also begun shipping art supplies to those who can’t get to the studio.

With Easter around the corner, the studio will soon offer ceramic Easter eggs, and Inez says they are working on fused-glass home kits, too. They also plan to offer simple video tutorials in the future so people can learn at home.

“We’re going to try and be as creative as we possibly can,” Inez said.

To order a home art kit, call (406) 862-5929 or email the studio at

Hockaday Museum of Art

In an effort to continue supporting local artists after the Hockaday Museum shut its doors, Executive Director Alyssa Cordova has used the museum’s Facebook platform to create a “Meet a Montana Artist” exhibit, giving local artists an opportunity to promote their work online.

Artists submit a headshot of themselves and a few images of their work with a short biography or video introducing themselves.

Cordova has received submissions from artists in the Flathead and all over Montana.

“It’s been going really well,” she said. “We’ve received a lot of submissions from a lot of artists saying, ‘Thank you so much.’ From our end, it’s really fun, too, and we get to see some artists’ work that we were not familiar with.”

Since artists’ livelihoods often rely on face-to-face interactions at galleries and exhibits, Cordova says the closures have hit the art community hard.

With the Hockaday’s online presence, Cordova says featured artists can at least connect with the public, which could lead viewers to their website or social-media page.

“That’s one positive aspect,” Cordova said. “People are using their energy to create new, engaged audiences in a different way.”

“Museums are trying to have fun and be creative,” she added.

To view the “Meet a Montana Artist” exhibit, visit the Hockaday’s Facebook page. Submissions can be sent to

Frame of Reference Fine Art

After the C.M. Russell Museum’s well-known annual sale and benefit in Great Falls called “The Russell” was canceled in March, along with a separate “Out West” show, many local artists who were planning to participate lost an opportunity to show their work.

To help artists gain attention, Frame of Reference gallery owners Derek and Elizabeth Vandeberg have developed an online exhibition for the 43 represented artists who were planning on showing their work in the “Out West” show. While it’s unaffiliated with “The Russell,” the “Out West” exhibit that was planned during the same week in Great Falls draws similar crowds.

“Without being on somebody’s schedule, we took the entire collection we were going to take to Great Falls and put it on the website,” Derek Vandeberg said.

While the artists’ work is limited to online platforms, the Vandebergs say their audience reach has expanded from Montana to other states, including Utah, California and Washington.

To address customer and artist financial struggles, the Vandebergs are offering six- to 12-month payment plans for purchased pieces. This ensures the artist will receive some income each month.

Additionally, the Vandebergs are donating 10% of their revenue to local food banks. The gallery recently donated a portion of sales to food banks in Polson and Whitefish.

To view the online “Out West Art Show,” visit

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