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Killdeer Artisans highlight spring with focus on birds

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ARLEE –At first glance, the inside of the Hangin’ Art gallery has the look of a bird sanctuary. The newest Killdeer Artisans Guild installation pairs real bird nests with depictions of birds in various mediums. 

The spring installation, which opened Saturday, is called “Spring’s Return.”

Guild member Marti deAlva said the nests sparked the idea for the installation. Her friend Kathee Dunham had been collecting birds nests for years and wanted to display them at the gallery. The guild decided to shape the spring show around the nests. The featured artists for the show presented their depictions of birds in distinct styles. DeAlva said art can serve as a part of the transition as the valley emerges from the long winter. 

Claire Emory, a Missoula artist, specializes in woodcut prints. Her birds are outlined in black and white and brought to life with watercolor. Emory said her work can be summarized by the Mary Oliver quote, “My work is to love the world.” She sketches observations from the natural world in a book and then transfers them to blocks of wood. She uses tools to carve her sketches onto the blocks. Emory said she has worked in other mediums but always knew wood carved prints would be her ultimate form of expression. Both the images and the wooden blocks she uses to create them derive from the natural world. Emory appreciates that parallel. She said her craft “slows me down, it wakes me up, it feeds my soul.”

Jenah Meade, also from Missoula, is the other featured artist this month. Meade draws birds with fine detail using graphite. She uses her background in wildlife biology to create lifelike images.

In addition to the featured artists, the installation displays art made by members of the guild. The Killdeer Artisan’s Guild is a group of artists that work together to create and display work at the gallery. 

Member artist Shawna Folden said the guild provides her a valuable community around art. “As artists, we can just hide out and create,” she said. “It’s nice to get together.”

The pieces all have a connection to birds or spring. On display are felted flowers, detailed paintings of feathers and lush spring landscapes. Two new guild members, Juanita Thames and Doug Ersson, have their first pieces as members hanging in the gallery. 

This spring the guild will be raffling a hand-painted scarf, made by member Diane Olhoeft. The proceeds will support the gallery. The installation can be seen at the gallery Tuesday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until mid-June. 


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