Artists And Craftsmen Of The Flathead Stronger Than Ever After 40 Years


From humble beginnings, the Artists and Craftsmen of the Flathead group has grown right into a burgeoning group that now boasts 160 members and is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this 12 months. Their annual Christmas present, scheduled Friday by way of Sunday, Nov. 26 to Nov. 28, at the Flathead County Fairgrounds, will function 120 distributors — the largest occasion the group has ever hosted.

Artists and Craftsmen of the Flathead was established in 1981 by Kathy and John Herranen, two artists looking for a technique to market their work domestically. The group grew shortly, a testomony to the want to offer native artists a cheap means to assist their artwork, many who rely upon it for his or her main revenue.


Nonetheless, after many years of fluctuating membership, by 2015 the group had begun to expertise rising pains and membership declined. By 2016, the group was contemplating disbanding. A reorganizational committee was shaped to debate methods to reinvigorate the group.


By 2017, when Lindsay Mena joined, the group had obtained its 501(c)(3) nonprofit standing, and rewrote its bylaws and insurance policies so it might obtain its targets of not solely supporting its members, but additionally fundraising so it might give again to the neighborhood by donating to different organizations. The group has since grown steadily, because of outreach efforts at native artwork festivals, farmers markets and phrase of mouth.

FOR HER enterprise, Montana Alchemy, Mena dries flowers both in a microwavable flower press for softer petals, or with silica powder for thicker ones and then preserves the vibrant blooms in epoxy resin.

An avid flower gardener, Mena grows extra than 60 varieties of flowers at her dwelling, from daisies and dahlias to black-eyed Susans and Johnny Leap-Ups.

“My mother had saved up the backyard at a house she purchased that had had a pleasant flower backyard put in by its earlier proprietor,” Mena stated. “When my husband and I moved in in 2012 I simply saved including to it.”

Mena is only one of the many various members that drive the neighborhood of Artists and Craftsmen of the Flathead. The group is a collective of skilled artists, crafters and hobbyists from their mid-20s to their 80s. They even boast one constitution member, Sandy Brown.

​​Mena, who has served as president since 2019, additionally talked about longtime board member Sharon Askelson, who has served as treasurer since 1994.

“I couldn’t do that with out her,” Mena stated. “She is our anchor.”

BEING A member has appreciable benefits.

Mena stated that apart from receiving a reduction on their sales space charges at ACF’s two annual exhibits, members are inspired to position their profiles on the web site the place they will embrace hyperlinks to both their very own web sites if they’ve one, or their Fb web page or Instagram accounts. Moreover, the ACF Market on the web site is a spot the place they will straight promote their merchandise.

“It offers them an choice to dip their toe in the water with out having to spend money on their very own web site.”

Members Julie Frederick and Pat Baker get pleasure from the camaraderie of ACF.

“I like the spirit of friendship and that as a nonprofit we could be extra altruistic,” Frederick stated. For the final 5 years Frederick has offered her home made high quality liquor and fruit-filled Slammin’ Jams with the assist of ACF.

“ACF has given us a venue to promote our inventive facet,” she stated. “There aren’t rather a lot of different alternatives the place native artists can do this.”

Frederick and Baker additionally run Empowerment Group, an area full-time artwork remedy studio with Frederick, a medical skilled artwork therapist as its director, and Baker as its artwork trainer.

Baker, knowledgeable Western and wildlife painter and trainer for extra than 50 years together with her work displayed in all 50 states and 39 international locations, stated she discovered it troublesome to get into the native artwork neighborhood.

“Individuals in ACF assist each other,” Baker stated. “It’s a non-competitive group.”

Some members have taught neighborhood artwork courses and Mena envisions extra neighborhood involvement in instructing.

By way of the years, ACF has donated time, volunteers, cash and merchandise to varied nonprofits and causes, from the Flathead Meals Financial institution to the Abbie Shelter.

Starting in 2019, ACF has sponsored an annual $1,000 “Create It Ahead” scholarship for artwork college students by way of Flathead Valley Neighborhood Faculty.

Mena would additionally prefer to develop the ACF Market into a great tool for members.

“We need to develop Artists and Craftsmen of the Flathead right into a neighborhood that works collectively to placed on extra high quality occasions,” she stated, “and give artists extra alternatives.”

Neighborhood editor Carol Marino could also be reached at 406-758-4440 or [email protected]


Artists and Craftsmen of the Flathead’s fortieth anniversary Christmas Artwork Present, Craft Truthful and Makers’ Market takes place Thanksgiving weekend in the Commerce Middle constructing at the Flathead County Fairgrounds.

Present hours are 10 a.m. to five p.m. Friday Nov. 26, and Saturday, Nov. 27; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28, Flathead County Fairgrounds, Kalispell. Admission is free and meals vans shall be on web site.

Artists and Craftsmen of the Flathead continues to be devoted to selling the arts, crafts and small enterprise in the Flathead Valley by internet hosting two craft exhibits per 12 months and a web-based ACF Market the place members can promote their merchandise. Members share recommendation and enterprise methods, assist one another and host “artwork nights” for native elementary and center faculties instructing varied crafts and boosting younger native artists.

When you’re focused on studying extra about or becoming a member of the group, e-mail [email protected] or go to





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