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Painting the Town

Great Falls Studios exhibit helps open the ReMax Gateway office.

As part of the Colvin Run Corner’s grand reopening celebration last week, members of the Great Falls Studios artist group organized an exhibit at the ReMax Gateway office on Colvin Mill Road.

“THEY’VE BEEN very appreciative for us holding it here and we’re happy to have them,” said Doris Leadbetter, managing broker for the office.

Although not a member of Great Falls Studio, Leadbetter did have a piece of pottery she’d made on display for the exhibit’s opening reception Friday evening.

“I’ve met so many wonderful people” through her office’s partnership with the organization, she said. “I’m looking forward to having our neighbors here and becoming a part of our community.”

Painter Jill Banks had two weeks to organize the exhibit, which will be hanging in the ReMax office until the end of May.

The exhibit features 58 pieces of art ranging from photos and oil paintings to pottery and wood sculptures, mostly from artists who live in Great Falls.

“We were able to accommodate just about everything,” Banks said. She received more than 70 submissions for the exhibit and was able to “find things that worked together. It’s a very diverse group, with an emphasis on Great Falls,” she said.

Following an interest in texture, Jon Fisher submitted two sculptures made from wooden dowels.

“I have an old chicken coop at my house made of dowels and I’ve made a couple pieces like that, that are ‘found art,’” he said.

“I always think of an abacus when I see your work,” Elaine Elinsky said to Fisher. Elinsky has submitted two oil paintings on wooden boxes for the exhibit.

“THE BOXES were made by my dad,” she said. “I do still life figurative and more abstract work. This is what I had available and finished at home, but I happen to really like these pieces,” she said of her two submissions.

Elinsky said she prefers to use real fruit for her still lives because “artificial fruit just doesn’t work as well.”

“I like to play with what’s in front of me and see what I can do with it,” she said.

Walt Lawrence has 10 digital images, ranging from his beloved waterfalls at Great Falls Park to Thelma’s Ice Cream, hanging in the exhibit.

“I like to photograph wildlife to the extent that I can find it,” he said. He also enjoys photographing “old buildings like chicken coops and barns, reflections and clouds. I generally don’t like photographing people,” he said with a chuckle.

The artists of Great Falls Studios are becoming more visible around the area, with an exhibit at the Great Falls Library also currently hanging until the second Saturday in May, Lawrence said.

“It drives you to produce more work,” Banks said of how the group’s presence keeps its members working.

“When you work with two-dimensional art, you’re always looking for walls that are open to the public where we can hang our craft,” Lawrence said. “This space is terrific.”

Fisher said he appreciated “the ability to show off materials” in locations “other than banks or restaurants.”

Banks agreed, adding that having an exhibit in an office setting is “more accessible than a gallery space. It’s more welcoming than a gallery, it’s a really enjoyable event.”

Great Falls Studios is “a relatively new group,” Elinsky said. “This is a good way to show the community that we’re here.”

For Fisher, returning to sculpting was picking up an old habit all over again.

“This is a return to something I did when I was younger and I find it very soothing,” he said. “People who have been doing this for a long time might look at it differently,” he laughed.