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Early Valentine party raises funds for youth art camp

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CHARLO – Though it was one of the coldest days of the winter, more than 80 people made their way to the Leon Community Clubhouse on Saturday, filling it with cheery conversation, music and art. 

The event was the annual Ninepipe Arts Group fundraiser, and all the proceeds went to support Charlo’s summer fine-arts camp and other art related events that NAG facilitates throughout the year. The annual event has been happening for more than 10 years.

Mimi Werner is an artist who lives on Finley Point. She said she attends the event to support arts for children. “It’s also a great way to bring the community out,” she said. 

Ninepipe Arts Group members transformed the Leon Community Clubhouse, which has hosted events for over 100 years, into a Valentine’s Day wonderland. Guests snacked on hors d’oeuvres and indulged in desserts and drinks. Attendees perused the more than 65 donated silent auction items displayed around the room. KC and the Valley Cats provided jazzy music, and guests of all ages got up to dance. There was also a surprise performance from Chris Sand, known as “the Rappin’ Cowboy.” 

Art of a variety of mediums was displayed in the silent auction. Attendees bid on photographs, paintings and sculptures. In addition, food items and clothing were available for auction. One attendee won a gallon of fresh picked raspberries next summer.

Founding NAG member Caroline Myhre said the art camp funded by the party fills a need for art instruction for young children. According to the NAG website 50 to 70 children attend the camps each year. “It does the kids a lot of good,” Myhre said.

Children were involved in facilitating the party as well. A crew of younger kids helped clear tables, while three high school students worked in the kitchen. Jaden Coston, Allison Delaney, and Wills DeGrandpre are all seniors at Charlo High School and first became involved in NAG as kindergarteners at the art camp. They said the camp was a positive experience.

“It gave us an appreciation for art when we were young,” Delaney said. And Coston added: “We got to spend time with people who care about art a lot.” 

The three students were also involved in creating the centerpieces for the tables at the event. Each table in the room featured a wilderness-themed sculpture designed by Charlo High School art students. 

Charlo Middle School and high school art teacher Sharon Hertz works closely with NAG. “There’s been a really great symbiosis between the art group and the school,” Myhre said. 

NAG summer camps inspire younger students to remain involved in art. Then, years later when they’re in high school, the party serves as a venue for students to display their art. 

“Showing their centerpieces here helps them put value on their work,” Hertz said.  

Myhre said the Valentine party matches the intention of the summer camps. “It’s all about fun,” she said.

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