Great Falls Becomes Western Art Capital

It happens every year about the third week in March.

Hotel lobbies and sleeping rooms transform into art galleries, events all over town are drawing crowds of art lovers and you can feel a quicker pulse as you move about Great Falls. The event – Western Art Week.

It all began many years ago as the C. M. Russell Auction of Western Art.

Other art shows soon followed and now you can find contemporary art, western art, Native American art, handmade home furnishings and wearables. Many hotels are filled with art displays, shows take place at Montana Expo Park and the big Russell Sale now happens at the Great Falls Civic Center.

I’d like to report that I managed to get to all of the shows but I didn’t. I chose carefully so I could connect with long time artist friends and also see some of the new shows.

Music entertainment is scheduled at many of the shows along with receptions, quick finishes and auctions.

One of my favorite events is Art in Action, held at the Meadowlark Country Club and sponsored as a fundraiser for the C. M. Russell Museum. Artists are set up throughout the lounge and restaurant and work on their masterpieces that are then auctioned.

It’s close quarters at Art in Action and if I was an artist working on a piece I would be a nervous wreck!

The piece that sold for the largest bid was a painting of a neon sign that said Cowboy Bar – bright and colorful with a bucking horse. I enjoyed the piece this artist was working on. He was using a pallet knife and his subject matter was trees.

Another unique event is the Great Western Living & Design Show held at MT Expo Park.

While there are some booths that have what is considered traditional art (paintings, sculptings) there are many different works. I learned about felted wearables, dyed silk, hand carved pool cue racks, and hand carved furniture one evening as country western musicians played in the background.

Western Art Week in Great Falls, Montana is an absolutely wonderful time – a time to reconnect with long-time friends, meet new artists, and maybe, just maybe, purchase some artwork.

If you missed it this year make your plans for March 2016. There is something for everyone in every price range. You won’t be disappointed!


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