The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

Bringing Momentary Joy with Art


December 2, 2020

During this pandemic when critical resources are stretched thin and the very essence of our freedom is shrinking under mandates, stay-at-home directives, and social distancing guidelines, many of us have grown introspective. We have turned our thoughts inward to imagine a different reality than the one we're living. Quarantine, although stressful, has given all of us time to think.

In this time of crisis and isolation, art can play a healing role. Art slows us down, forcing us to notice and to cherish small details-details that distress has the power to erase. After all, art's job is not only to look nice but to say something. With its capacity to bring joy, wonder, and a glimpse of hope, art moves us towards new understandings about ourselves and the world around us.

Hoping to bring momentary joy to the community and acting in support of local artists, Bonnie Weber invites Hi-Line residents and their guests to join her in celebrating art. On Sunday, December 13 from 4:00-7:00 p.m., Shores Floral & Gift will host their annual All I Want for Christmas Art Event.

The event will feature several local artists, who will not only exhibit their art but offer some for sale, just in time for holiday gift-giving. Those scheduled for attendance include T Meyer Art by Terri Meyer, paintings and drawings by Jenna Fox, Western Art and Photos by Tomi Simenson, and metal and antler art by Mick Heflin.

While shoppers browse for unique handmade gifts just in time for the holiday season, they can enjoy hors d'oeuvres and refreshments.

The first artist, Terri Meyer is both a candle-maker and a painter of colorful, emotional, and abstract works of art. Shores carries a wide variety of candle fragrances from Candles by Terri. These are hand poured, soy wax candles made in small batches in Meyer's Hi-Line kitchen.

About her candle fragrances for the season, Meyer remarked, "Mistletoe is always a seasonal favorite; it carries notes of eucalyptus, red currant, and warm woods. Another popular scent is Cedarwood Blanc, which is a very warm and wintry scent with its notes of bergamot, cedar, and patchouli. There's something very soothing about filling my house with beautiful candle scents. I love knowing that other folks love them too!"

Working in acrylic paint, in a style that is both expressive and abstract, Meyer describes herself as an intuitive painter, painting what she feels and letting the canvas do the talking. Her paintings, which have sold from Canada to Florida, reflect her primary influences: nature, color, and emotions.

"This has been a crazy year, so I don't have a ton of new work," Meyer said. At Sunday's event, Meyer will be showcasing a large piece that she completed early in the pandemic and calls Social Distancing. It features three horses uniquely spaced.

In addition to Social Distancing, Meyer will showcase a floral that hung for a time earlier this spring in a gallery in Hamilton, Montana. For sale, she will offer a few small works from last year, and she is currently working on a set of three paintings that she hopes to have ready by the show.

"The idea behind these three is from a dream I had about watering your horses, not only in a real, literal way but also in a spiritual and emotional way. Water is life-giving, and this year, more so than in the past, a lot of us are feeling overwhelmed and depleted. This series is a reminder to take care of yourself," Meyer explained.

Another exhibitor, Jenna Fox will be showcasing an assortment of pieces to include various acrylic landscape paintings and several floral pen and ink drawings. "I have been doing some acrylic painting recently, mostly landscapes, which is not something that I have done a lot of in the past," Fox reported.

She hopes to have a handful of pieces for sale, as well. "I am still working on some pieces and gathering others to display, so I'm not sure exactly how many I will have for sale," Fox stated.

Fox also claims to have been deriving pleasure from transforming into acrylic paintings various landscape photographs that she has taken. "It has been nice to have a creative outlet during the pandemic that can't get canceled," she laughed.

A third artist, Tomi Simenson will have her Western Art and Photos available. Simenson sketches primarily in pencils and charcoal but also enjoys watercolor painting, as well as taking photographs. Her art is typically themed around ranch life, often featuring cowboys and horses.

One rather large piece by Simenson that will be on exhibit during the Art Event is a consigned piece in charcoal. Unnamed at this point, it features a pair of horses with their noses touching in a sentimental gesture. She has worked for the last six months on this consignment piece for a client, shifting gears occasionally to make progress on a pencil drawing that she has had in the works for the past year.

In addition to marketing prints of a few of her drawings and gifts such as cutting boards, Simenson will have a new, original charcoal for sale, as well as ten-fifteen art and photo prints.

"People really enjoy the cutting boards this time of year because they make great Christmas gifts," Simenson remarked.

As inspiration for her art, Simenson usually sets aside photos that make an impact on her. "When sorting through my photographs and seeing one that really hits me, I think: 'Wow, that would look great as a drawing.' If it hits me right, I know that I have to turn it into artwork."

Whenever she sits down to work on her pieces, Simenson usually tunes the rest of the world out and lives in art's healing power. "I'm so focused on what I'm doing that I usually lose track of time and can spend hours in one sitting. With all the stress going on in the world right now, creating art definitely helps me forget about everything else during these sessions where I can just focus on what's right in front of me."

Finally, Mick Heflin is a metal artisan. He creates magnets, trivets on which to set hot pots, and various floral, western, and wildlife-themed metal art. He also fashions antler sculptures and three-dimensional pieces.

Recently, Heflin has been working on some children riding stick horses and conversing at a fence line, as well as a number of Christmas-themed pieces. One of those features Santa Claus with eight reindeer, a crescent moon, and a several pine trees.

"Art is a hobby for me," Heflin stated, "something I do for pleasure. I don't advertise or put things out on the internet. If it becomes a job, I want nothing to do with it!"

People are welcome to buy what Heflin has created, but he doesn't accept much consignment work beyond what local people ask him to do. "This is basically my retirement hobby," he said.

The COVID pandemic hasn't inspired Heflin to create in any different ways, but it has limited his ability to attend shows. "I had four shows lined up with plans to sell a lot of my stuff, but Butte, Great Falls, and Fort Benton all cancelled their shows. I did quite well at the Chokecherry Festival held in Lewistown in September, though," he reported.

All purchases at the All I Want for Christmas event will support small businesses and local, Montana-made talent. Consumers can be assured they are getting something unique and not mass-produced.

Furthermore, engagement with artistic activities, either as an observer of the creative efforts of others or as an initiator of creativity, can enhance one's moods and emotions, heal emotional injuries, increase understanding of oneself and others, and develop a capacity for self-reflection. Escaping from pain and confusion into art provides a healthy alternative to some of the choices we might otherwise make.


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