Contemporary artists collaborate for pop-up exhibit

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  • The painting entitled Meta by Olivia Stark is one of several artworks featured in the Sacred Contracts pop-up art exhibit on Thursday, June 6 at Stark Gallery downtown. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

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    Artists Heidi Marie Faessel, Jenny Bevill and Olivia Stark are the main organizers of a one-night only art exhibit for the Flathead Valley Women in the Arts at Stark Gallery downtown. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

  • The painting entitled Meta by Olivia Stark is one of several artworks featured in the Sacred Contracts pop-up art exhibit on Thursday, June 6 at Stark Gallery downtown. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

  • 1

    Artists Heidi Marie Faessel, Jenny Bevill and Olivia Stark are the main organizers of a one-night only art exhibit for the Flathead Valley Women in the Arts at Stark Gallery downtown. (Heidi Desch/Whitefish Pilot)

A group of artists have come together to create a pop-up art exhibit curated with the goal of being thought-provoking.

Flathead Valley Women in the Arts, an informal group of contemporary women artists and art professionals, have worked together to create the one-night only exhibit that will be hosted by Stark Gallery on Thursday, June 6 from 6-9 p.m.

“We’re all women artists who are working outside the mainstream,” said artist Jenny Bevill. “We look at something happening around us and we interpret it through the abstract in paintings or fiber arts or using different mediums to layer our ideas. We express our ideas and thoughts with non-realistic imagery.”

“Contemporary art is about creating art and then letting someone experience it,” Bevill added.

Six artists are participating in the exhibit described as a snapshot of contemporary art-making while exploring the theme of Sacred Contracts. In addition to Bevill, artists in the exhibit include Olivia Stark, Andrea Bachman, Heidi Marie Faessel, Christiane Hinterman and Jennifer Lee Thompson.

The works are a diverse range of media including paint, collage, fiber, natural and found materials, and poetry. They also range in size from hand-held to a full wall installation. Organizers describe the exhibition as “deconstruct objects, language, and memory, while weaving together messages of hope, grief, love, bearing witness, and matters of conscience.”

Each artist took the theme of Sacred Contracts selected this winter, and took projects already in progress or created new artwork based upon their own interpretation of what that means to them. Though they all worked on their pieces separately, they were amazed at how the pieces in the end fit together.

Olivia Stark, who is a mixed media artist and painter, created an abstract painting entitled Meta that at the center in pale pink appears to be the shape of a woman. Though she notes she rarely leaves figures in her paintings, this time was an exception.

“I was thinking about the sacred contract I have with my children,” she said. “About the solitary commitment to evolution and unconditional love. To acknowledge their individuality, separateness, and the infinite possibilities that lay ahead of them.”

Stark says at the center of the artwork is taking the time to experience and be with it.

“If we don’t relate to something we tend to move on, but it’s important to be with something and let it express itself,” she said. “We tend to go for the immediate satisfaction, but it’s important to relax and take more time to experience it.”

Heidi Marie Faessel is a textile artist who creates contemporary collages and paintings. For the exhibit, her piece shaped like large wings was created using long strips of dark-colored fabric layered together.

Faessel says she was inspired by a quote from 13th Century poet and mystic Rumi, who said “Maybe you are searching among the branches for what only appears in the roots.” It’s about our intimate contract with life, she notes, about searching to find meaning in our lives.

“Often we search outside ourselves for a sense of connection, to feel understood, for reassurance that we’re doing OK, and a path to peace,” she said. “What if this can only be found within ... in the roots?”

This is the second project of the Flathead Valley Women in the Arts, who previously brought The Scream Room, an interactive public art piece by multi-disciplinary artist Kylin O’Brien, to the Flathead Valley in 2018. The loosely formed group with about a dozen members that came out of the idea of women artists supporting each other with a mission to “support, create, cultivate, and curate conversation-starting artwork born of the hearts and minds of women.” Members of the group note that making art is often a solo activity — created alone in a studio, but the group provides a way to support each other.

The pop-up exhibit is a way to show art to the world, but also with an emphasis on the women behind that art. Each artist will include a short statement beside the pieces describing how they came to creating the artwork through the theme.

Bevill says the show has a larger meaning than to exhibit the artwork.

“Women’s voices are being silenced right now and it’s important that we be heard,” Bevill said. “Everyone is saying something and that is important to hear.”

Stark Gallery, which is a temporary space for the exhibit, is located at 244 Spokane Ave, suite 3, in downtown Whitefish, upstairs above Bookworks and Third Street Market.

For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/fhwomenarts/.

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