Sunday, October 28, 2012

All the News that Fits

Humor me for a second.  Real quick, go to the last post and read the very beginning.  I'll wait.


Got it?  The part about how we missed the ENTIRE month of June?

Now look at today's date.


Thank goodness we hired a new Social Media Director.  Hopefully she will help keep us on track.  Here she is, ready for her close-up:

Not only do I have to teach her to type, I guess I also have to teach her how to use my new camera.  So don't be surprised if, in the future, you see a lot of pictures like this:

In the meantime, Roxie has asked me to muddle through once again, and fill you in on everything new at the gallery.  I will do my best.

First of all, we've got a bunch of this going on...

... because we've got a whole lot of new artwork!  It's crazy!  First, this sweet little guy from Sarah Rogers.  He is called the "Night Watchman."

Ed Gillenwater has been frantically finishing up a few new pieces before he heads out of town for the winter.  Ed's furniture has been flying out the door this year - a new commissioned console table just went to its new home this morning, in fact!  The dragonfly tile in this decorative wall piece is only about 2" square.  I've got it sitting on an easel in our front window:

We have a couple of new pieces from Tabby Ivy, and a whole bunch from Louise Lamontagne.

Roxie is ridiculing me because I forgot to write down the names of these two paintings.  She says she would never make such a foolish mistake.

In the custom framing department, we have been busy, busy, busy.  In fact, we just had our best September ever.  HA!  We have had great success with a line of moulding manufactured by one nice guy named Doug right down the road in Belgrade, Montana.  He has come up with a great rustic, western alternative to barnwood.

Last but not least, we also have a few new photo frames.  The frames in the first picture are supposedly made from naturally shed buffalo horn.  I don't know if I believe that, but they are really quite lovely.  The frames in the last picture are just your every day, regular, run-of-the-mill bling.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


So.  Did you notice that we missed the ENTIRE month of June with our blog posts?  Things were crazy around here.  Truly crazy.  It wasn't the best June we have ever had, but it is up in the top three or four.  And to cap it off, we hosted an artist's reception for Louise Lamontagne on Friday night, the 29th.  We had a blast!  It was Last Fridays, so our entire block was hopping and loads of people came in.  At one point we were literally wall-to-wall people.  Josh up at Culinary Design Studio did an awesome job catering, we had an entire boat full of bubbly, and we sold six of Louise's paintings.  We were too busy to take a bunch of pictures, but here are a few:

 The booze boat!  We went through a lot of bubbly....

 We painted our door and trim "Louise colors" just for the event!  HA!

 Including the two in the window, we had 25 of Louise's paintings exhibited.

 "Renewal," the signature piece for the show, hangs beautifully on our blue wall.

Maggie and Al came to meet Louise and tell her some crazy story about Al's longtime friend having just married one of Louise's old roommates.  It's a small world!

Three of the Frame of Reference artists - Tabby Ivy, Jeanette Rehahn and Louise Lamontagne.  And that's Louise's husband Tom in the background.

What a great way to end the month.  Thank you Louise!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Time flies

It has been two months since our last blog post, and that means we have either been on a long, sweet vacation or we have been working our tails off.  Alas, there was no vacation!

Derek has been busy with his three jobs, Christine has been busy as President of the Board of Directors of the Bigfork Museum, and Roxie has been busy answering phones and playing ball.  Here is the evidence:

Next week the Bigfork Museum is holding its annual fundraising auction, and Tabby Ivy is one of six "quick finish" artists featured.  Check back next week for photos!  We are also working on our summer schedule, and hope to have two fabulous shows lined up highlighting our newest artists.  Last but not least, May 25 is Last Fridays.  It is also the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend and the Whitewater Festival, so Bigfork will be hopping.  Stop in and see us!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tasty Sausages for Breakfast!

No, this isn't a post on the wrong blog; for your dining pleasure today, I'll be serving up a variety of hot links to recognize the folks that have made our February and March busier than normal!

March is always a decent month for us, because the second full week of March is always Art Week in Great Falls.  Art Week is anchored by the events hosted by the C.M. Russell Museum, the cornerstone of Western Art and Montana history in Great Falls.  For decades, the Museum has hosted an art auction and sale, taking over the Best Western Heritage Inn Hotel, where artists exhibit their work in individual guest rooms.  The event at the Heritage was in jeopardy a few years ago, when the art world was at a low because of the Great Recession, and was at risk of ceasing to exist.  Fortunately, last year it was taken over and renamed the Western Masters Art Show and Sale, with management undertaken by Steve Cawdrey and Pat Hagan, husbands of Montana artists Nancy Dunlop Cawdrey and Carol Hagan, respectively.  Last year's event was widely regarded as the best ever, exceptionally well run and well attended, and this year's event should be even better.  The public is welcome, and this is unquestionably the best venue for Western art in the U.S.  Kudos to Pat and Steve for carrying the ball over the proverbial goal line!

The Western Masters Art Show and Sale:

The C.M. Russell Museum:

So, March is always a decent month for the winter because Nancy Cawdrey has a LOT of framing done to take to the show!  Nancy always stretches herself to try new and different things for this event, and this year is no different.  She has done some spectacular paintings of a pickup truck named Oliver, and another of a tractor - these are new and different for her, and I don't think she's ever shown a vehicle before.  Here's "Oliver Gets Gassed" - the tow truck on silk:

It's a very cool painting, but it's not my favorite of the show.  My favorite painting is actually one of Nancy's iconic tipi images, and I must confess that while it's a stunning painting in its own right, it is my favorite because of the framing.  Since Nancy pushes herself to paint new things, we strive to create newer and better framing packages to present her work.  A few years back we developed a new way of stacking frames that we'd never seen before, conceived by Christine and refined through various versions and experimentation on my part.  This deserves a blog post all to itself, and I was actually slated to teach this technique to other framers at the West Coast Art and Frame Show in Las Vegas back in January, but the scheduling didn't work out.  I'll expound upon it later in detail, but suffice it to say this is a complex process that involves modifying the shape of some of the mouldings, adding structural components from other lumber, and a healthy dose of Christine's insisting that, "Yes, it can be done, you just have to figure out how."  The finished product is perfect in that it looks like one complex frame, rather than three frames stacked together.  It's tough to explain, but I promise to revisit that at some point...

This piece, "Night of the Horse" is just over 6' x 4' framed, and the construction took nearly six hours, a huge amount of time for a single painting.  Of course, it took Nancy much longer to paint it!  The picture simply doesn't do it justice:

Next up is another tasty link, to our friend and emerging artist Kenneth Yarus, exhibiting at the Western Masters for the first time this year.  Ken is the youngest artist ever to have been juried into the live auction, and his paintings and drawings are incredible.  From ballerinas to Western portraits to classical landscapes, Ken's composition and brushwork are decades beyond his tender young age, which I think is about 22...  Rather than post one or two photos, I'll simply send you to his website:

Christine, once again, created a unique look for Ken's paintings, giving them all a cohesive look by using the same moulding on each one, done in a variety of sizes and colors.  The frames are rustic pine with rusted tin corner ornamentation, many with an overwash of color.  They were done by our friend Doug Cox just outside of Bozeman; Doug's Facebook page catalogs his work nicely.  Thanks for the great work, Doug!  We will post photos of Ken's completed display in Great Falls in a later post, but here's the link to Doug for now:

And there you have it - tasty art links to enjoy with your morning coffee.  Cheers!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tabby Ivy in the Whitefish Art Walk

Wow - that's a terrible picture!  What's it even doing in our blog?  Well, that's a shot of the display window at the Bozeman Watch Company's Whitefish showroom, located at the corner of Central and 2nd Avenues, smack in the heart of downtown Whitefish.  And, if you strain your eyes and look closely, you can just make out two paintings on easels in that window.  Go ahead, work at it a bit - we'll wait...

Here's the story: for 25 years now, Whitefish has done an Art Walk in conjunction with the Winter Carnival, stemming from the days when the town didn't have many art galleries and there were few venues to see the creative talents of local artists.  Artists are allotted space in the display windows of businesses downtown, and the result is three blocks of self-guided art tour, visible in all hours of the day and night.  The Whitefish Winter Carnival was just ranked by National Geographic Traveler magazine as one of the top ten winter carnivals in the world, and it's a really big deal, lasting two weeks and packing the town.  Needless to say, the exposure for artists, particularly those not represented in Whitefish galleries, is really quite exceptional.

As you may know from previous blog posts, we have somewhat of a strategic alliance with the Bozeman Watch Company; Derek is a bit of a watch geek, and at the behest of our friend John Lang, we started with a small display case of the limited edition timepieces here in Bigfork back in June of 2011.  In October, Derek started actually working for BWC, spending a few hours each week in their Whitefish showroom, helping with sales, but also handling systems integration, advertising and some graphic design tasks.  When BWC was approached to host an artist this year, it only seemed natural that we ask to be allowed to choose one from Frame of Reference!

So, we chose Tabby Ivy, one of our (rapidly) emerging artists, whose work we've shown for about two years now.  Tabby is a Bigfork resident who was a serious black-and-white photographer prior to picking up a paintbrush - her ability to see in monochrome allows her to create stunning ethereal landscapes in a very limited color palette.  Tabby's paintings have sold exceptionally well this past year, so she was the natural choice for the Art Walk; our goal is to gain her some additional exposure in the hopes of earning her some additional gallery representation out of the area.  Tabby created four new pieces specifically for this event, and since you can't see them in that rotten photo above, I'm putting them below.  And, I'll get a photo of the windows at night posted here in the next several days, because the one above doesn't do the pieces justice.

"Touching the Clouds"

"In A Quiet Moment"

"Napa Afternoon"


Saturday, January 14, 2012

It's a Brand New Day

It's also a brand new year, and things have been crazy around here.  The pre-Christmas rush was insane -- we were finishing up last minute pieces right up until we closed on Christmas Eve.  The week after Christmas was a fairly relaxing week, with Derek on vacation and Christine and Roxie working part-time.  Then January hit.


We are up to our eyeballs in work.  Apparently everyone is redecorating their homes this year, and they are all getting an early start.  Here is a sneak peek at one project that came in today.

This is going to be wicked cool.  Everything we have ever framed for Shelley has been wicked cool, and we hope to take some pictures in her house this spring for a future blog post.  In the meantime, back to work.  There is a lot to do!