For thirty years the Western Heritage Artists have taken over the Holiday Inn in Great Falls, MT the third week of March. I’ve attended many of their events and the group has seen steady growth. Tonight was their Quick Finish event where artists had 45 minutes to produce an original work. It could be in any medium. I had a great time just watching the artists work.
The event is a fundraiser for the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls. When I walked in to the room for the event, I was greeted by a local member of what is called the Lewis & Clark Honor Guard. The character he portrays from the Lewis & Clark Expedition is Private John B Thompson and I think he has a darn good time doing it! Sometimes these “characters” have been subjects for the artists but this year they were on hand to help with the event and keep the Lewis & Clark flavor.
A silent auction was going on in two parts, a wall sale of donated artwork and two tables with items. Silent auction bidding became heated for a Yogo sapphire, a beautiful cornflower blue sapphire prized because it is only found in a six mile stretch in central Montana and because it doesn’t have to be heat treated. The auction item was a ladies ring with three Yogo sapphires and a couple of diamonds. I happened to be standing near the item and couldn’t figure out why everyone was crowding around the area. It was fun to see!
The artists were under a fair amount of pressure to create their original artwork. They each had easels, some had helpers, and some were just totally oblivious to the crowd of onlookers milling around them. That would have made me so nervous I wouldn’t have been able to focus.
After the master of ceremonies called “time’s up” the auctioneer (local city commissioner and professional auctioneer Fred Burrows) started calling for bids. The first couple of pieces started slowly, then the crowd began to warm up. A couple of bronzes brought good prices although I think the buyers also got good values.
It was a fun time and also a good fundraiser for the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. The Western Heritage Artists show continues through Sunday.