Montana Art Festival showcases local, regional artists

More than 60 artists and artisans sell wares during three-day show

Art Beat

The 11th annual Montana Art Festival, Nov. 29-Dec. 1 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Missoula, features around 60 local and regional artists and crafts people. Doors are open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Montana Art Festival director Matt Holmes is a ceramic artist.
Montana Art Festival director Matt Holmes is a ceramic artist.

Customers can find one-of-a-kind paintings, pottery, jewelry, soaps, photography, clothing, woodwork, and more. There’s no entry fee and everyone has a chance to win donated artwork from the show’s many vendors.

Chilaili Wachiwi performs Native American flute music daily and visitors will have an opportunity to meet Miss Montana, Merissa Underwood, Saturday afternoon.

The Montana Art Festival was founded by Jim Bice. When he passed away a few years ago, he transferred ownership of the event to Matt Holmes of Holmes Fine Art. “I took over the festival midway through last year and this will be my first year solely running it from start to finish,” he says.

Holmes, a ceramist and multi-media artist, has taught art at Polson High School for 21 years. “I met Jim when I started doing art fairs in the summer to make extra income,” he says.

Holmes sells raku and horse-hair pottery along with oil paintings. “As an art teacher I get to work in a variety of mediums so I like to switch it up.”

The festival showcases works by a wide variety of artists from around the region, including Utah, Idaho, Washington, and all points of Montana.

Local artists include Salish Kootenai College art instructor Frank Finley; photographers Scott Wheeler (Butte), Adam Birley (Just Your Average Weekend Photography, Missoula) and Montana Wildlife Images from Marion.

Potters Mark Sherman from St. Regis and Clay Momma Shannon Thomasson from Clinton share raku works; Amanda Biebly (Missoula), Jodi Monahan (Missoula) and Elaine Fraticelli are among the new painters at this year’s show; while Janet Sullivan and Phyllis Tag – two well-known Missoula painters – are popular participants.

The jewelry selection includes high-quality works by long-time participants Cool Water Jewelry and Dani’z Designs, along with Silver Linings (Lolo), Hunting Horse Designs (Missoula), and newcomer Bockemuehl Jewelers of Spokane.

Other offerings include recycled clothing by local artists Jax Hats and newcomer JUJU Gear from Bozeman; woodworking by Distinctive Designs from Post Falls, Idaho, Steve Corcoran from Polson, and Maderhausen Designs from East Helena; and unique gifts by Patagonia Hands, Forging Roots and Ridgetop, to name a few.

For images of artists’ work and more information, visit the festival’s Facebook page.