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Great Falls Studios Presents Holiday Arts Bazaar

Great Falls Library will benefit from arts and crafts sales.

Residents of Great Falls will get another reminder of how strong the art community is in the area during the Great Falls Studios Holiday Arts and Crafts Bazaar at the Great Falls Library on Dec. 3 and 4.

Nineteen artists will have samples of their work available for purchase in the library’s meeting room, where some of them will be giving demonstrations, ranging from pottery to beaded jewelry to basic oil painting.

“The plan is to set up a tarp for people to demonstrate how they create their art. One woman’s going to bring her computer and show how to work Photoshop to work with pictures,” said Walt Lawrence, who is also a member of Friends of the Library and came up with the idea to hold the show there.

“Someone in the Library group suggested we do a holiday show (at the library), and I mentioned it to the Great Falls Studios group,” Lawrence said.

The group enthusiastically agreed to put something together, but some artists who initially planned to participate had to withdraw from the event, he said, over concerns of not having enough pieces to display or other commitments. “We’re finding more and more artists in the community. The word’s getting out,” he said.

Lawrence, a photographer by hobby, will have a few of his pieces available at the show. “The world of digital photography gives you so much more flexibility and control with images,” he said.

NANCY PALMER, a beaded-jewelry maker and librarian in Great Falls, said she’d be bringing some necklaces and bracelets to the show.

“I’m trained as a painter and do various noncommercial-type things,” she said. Palmer will be giving a demonstration on beads, “antique glass beads, semiprecious stones,” and how they can be turned into jewelry.

“We want people to feel there isn’t a big barrier between those who spend one weekend a month making art and those who create every day,” she said. “Part of the health of a community of people is that people feel comfortable creating art.”

Although the event is being called a “holiday” arts and crafts show, Palmer doesn’t think there will be an overall theme to the show in the artwork presented.

“Everybody will probably have some reference to the season, it’ll probably be seasonal in some way, but I can’t think of anyone (bringing pieces) with a religious bent,” she said.

Palmer’s daughter wants to become a member on her own, which she said shows the appeal of bringing local artists into the community spotlight.

“We’re now talking of whether we’ll encourage mentoring of younger artists,” she said of the Studios’ future and community involvement.

She also said it’s important for Great Falls Studios artists to periodically hold or participate in a public event, to remind people of the wealth of talent in the area. “If you expect to have some strength as an artist, you need to appear in the community,” she said.

Painter Heidi Pfisterer-Mraz said it will be “wonderful to be able to show our neighbors what we’re doing.

“Many artists will be doing their craft at the show, and I will probably be working on some portraits. This is a big season for me with the holidays coming up,’ she said.

Her work is mainly done in oils, which take longer to dry, so she typically works on several projects at a time, she said. “I’ll bring some pieces that need some finishing,” she said.

Great Falls Studios founder Laura Nichols, who will not be participating in the library event because she’s having a show in her own home the same day, said the event is a “fantastic” idea for bringing in new members, and allowing current members to get out into the community.

“IF ANYBODY IN TOWN has an idea that involves art, we funnel the idea to our artists and they get it done,” she said.

In addition, the group has decided to give a portion of proceeds from the event to the library.

“Since we’re all from Great Falls, it’s natural to give back to the community that supports us,” Nichols said.

The artists were initially concerned about how much inventory to bring to the event because “we’re not sure how much foot traffic we’ll have,” Mraz said.

“The first couple of times you do something, the numbers grow every time,” Palmer said. The group estimates that over 150 people will attend the weekend’s event.

“We’ll put tables up against the walls with some space between to walk behind, and then have five or six in the center in a rectangle so there’ll be a clear way for people to walk around the room,” Lawrence said.

“Many artists are bringing screens to hang their pieces up, like a gallery,” Mraz said.

The artists said they weren’t nervous or overly anxious about the event, although they were initially concerned about having pieces finished to bring to the table.

“There was an effort to get stuff produced in time,” Lawrence said.

“I think some people decided not to do this show because they felt they wouldn’t have as many pieces completed as they’d need,” Palmer said.

The group is also looking at the bigger picture, that it’s another chance for the fledgling, year-old organization to remind the community that artists are living and working and creating in Great Falls.

“Even if nobody came, it’s still going to be successful in that it’ll give the people showing their art and their friends a chance to connect,” Palmer said.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for people who have never shown in public before to show their work safely,” Nichols said. “They’ll be in a community of friends. It’s good for all of us to show our work, to get feedback and have people look at our work.”

Plus, the members hope it’s a step in the right direction of building their art community.

“All our neighboring communities have well-developed art communities,” Palmer said. “Great Falls is not that centralized, so we’re in the early stages.”

THE HOLIDAY ARTS AND CRAFTS BAZAAR will be held from noon- 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, in the Meeting Room of the Great Falls Library. Participating artists include Jill Banks, Elaine Elinsky, Susy Fish, Marcia Fouquet, Betty Ganley, Barbara Gatterdam, Donnalee Holwerda, Yiyan Huang Huff, Ronni Jolles, Walt Lawrence, Cristina Mittermeier, Heidi Mraz, Nancy Palmer, Kanchana Sing, Roberta Roberts, Judith St. Ledger-Roty, Suzanne Twyford and Mollie Vardell.