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Art Focus working to support artists amid pandemic; accepting entries for juried art show
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Art Focus working to support artists amid pandemic; accepting entries for juried art show

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Art Focus Fine Art & Custom Framing on Main Street in Hamilton is surviving the COVID pandemic and supporting artists by providing opportunities for showing and selling their work.

Art Focus owner Michelle Biggins said she is accepting entries until Oct. 31 for their second annual juried Winter Art Show that runs from Dec. 1-31.

“All the art pieces will be priced at $600 or less,” Biggins said. “Any artist anywhere can apply with four pieces. We did it last year and a lot of fantastic artists from around Montana participated. It was a great opportunity for Christmas purchasing and to support the artists.”

Biggins said it is a good way to give back to the community.

“It has been a tough year for artists and this is a great way to help their families out for Christmas and support our local gallery,” she said. “For this show in December, we’re letting people purchase and take the art right away because it is Christmas. You’re buying it to give it. We do gift wrapping and they can take it home for under the Christmas tree.”

In 2019, 27 Montana artists were accepted to the show that showed 40 paintings. Each piece of original artwork was $600 or less and measured 12 inches by 18 inches.

“We have a variety of mediums,” Biggins said. “We’ve accepted everything from pottery to textiles, to paint. Anything that is considered art we accept as submissions then the jury selection picks the top quality for showing in Art Focus.”

The Winter Art Show will take up quite a bit of space in the gallery.

“It’s a big bet. It is a big hope that people come and support us,” Biggins said. “It gives a lot of artists the opportunity to show the community what they’ve been up to for the year.”

Art Focus just finished a successful showing of Turner Vincen’s show called “A Year in the Bitterroot.”

“Community response was wonderful,” Biggins said.

The October show features Corvallis artist Tracie Hubbard’s “Changing Seasons.”

“She participates in the MPAA and is a fantastic oil painter and we have 30 of her paintings here in the galley,” Biggins said.

In her artist statement, Hubbard said, “Montana really does experience the four seasons. Never settling for painting one subject, I constantly shift my artistic vision with the changing seasons. With each season comes new inspiration, and I find myself eagerly anticipating the change.”

Art Focus has been open since 1993 and specializes in framing. Lately, they have been framing unique projects for the community. Biggens said the best project of the month was a large deer hide with native American bead work.

“Someone had hand-beaded it, and we framed it archivally. It is gorgeous,” Biggins said. “It was a piece someone had done for a movie set back in the 80s. We can preserve a customer’s treasures.”

Art Focus will soon have a new, high-tech mat cutter.

“It will be a state-of-the-art, one of the best a frame shop can have for production framing,” Biggins said. “It will do embossing, it cuts vinyl, it does all of the new age framing techniques that we’ve been wanting to bring in. I’m super excited about that.”

Biggins said that she appreciates Art Focus customers.

“I’m am so grateful to the community that supported us through COVID and for the artists that stuck with me through the spring,” she said. “We were only closed for the month of April. We’re still here, we’re open and we’re still moving along. We get new art in every week and we switch out the windows for all the window shoppers at least once a month.”

She said with the other galleries and all the talented artists in the Bitterroot Valley she’d like Hamilton to be “on the map for art places not to miss in Montana.”

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As if COVID scares aren’t spooky enough, Halloween events are still happening in the Bitterroot Valley. Opportunities for spooky adventures include the Field of Screams, Darby Library (Oct. 23), the Hamilton Downtown Association’s weeklong “Parade of Scarecrows,” the Witches Brigade on Oct. 30, the Daly Mansion’s Trunk or Treat event, the Halloween Carnival & Halloween Fun House at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds and night Trick or Treating in Hamilton on Oct. 31.

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