Summer ArtFest makes debut here

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Nancy Cawdrey and the Nancy Cawdrey Gallery will be hosting the first inaugural ArtFest this week. (Daniel McKay/Whitefish Pilot)

Whitefish is already a ski and summer destination, but Nancy and Steve Cawdrey are hoping to make it an art destination as well.

The Cawdreys, along with a group of Whitefish galleries, will be hosting the first Summer ArtFest at Whitefish on Friday, June 28 through Sunday, June 30. Events take place around Whitefish including at the Nancy Cawdrey Gallery on Wisconsin Avenue.

The three-day event in its inaugural year is described as a showcase of some of the best artists from the Western art world and is set to feature, in addition to a variety of art, auctions, live demonstrations and personal interactions with artists. Organizers plan to make it an annual event.

A number of galleries in Whitefish are participating in the ArtFest, including Samarah Gallery, Going to the Sun Gallery, Frame of Reference, Group B Gallery, Dick Idol Gallery and Whitefish Pottery and Stillwater Gallery.

Nancy says the hope is to continue building Whitefish up as an art town.

“I think Whitefish could be an art mecca in Northwest Montana. It has everything going for it,” Nancy says. “A lot of restaurants, a lot of galleries, nice downtown that’s very walkable.”

“I think it’d be good for the town, good for the economy,” she added. “There are a lot of artists out of state even who are represented in this town, more so than Bigfork or any other town in Montana, I think that’s safe to say.”

The ArtFest will start with a kickoff party at Frame of Reference on Central Avenue on Friday, June 28, running from 6 to 9 p.m.

The following day will feature a number of gallery-specific events, including a preview of Sunday’s silent auction, a live pottery demonstration at Stumptown Art Studios, and a live oil on aluminum demonstration and photography workshop at Group B. Events begin at 10 a.m. and run throughout the day.

Saturday concludes with a meet and greet with the artists at Samarah Gallery on Baker Avenue from 6 to 9 p.m.

On Sunday, Cypress Yard — attached to the Nancy Cawdrey Gallery — will host live and silent auctions from 2:30 to 9 p.m. Food and drinks will be served complimentary.

Nancy says the hope is to bring people in to appreciate Whitefish’s art scene, even if attendees aren’t artists themselves.

“There’s no entry fee. Anybody can come, anybody can bid, anybody can interact. A 10-year-old can interact with me while I’m painting and ask me questions,” she said.

The ArtFest will hopefully inspire younger artists as well.

Ten percent of the proceeds from the ArtFest will go toward a future scholarship fund, Steve Cawdrey said.

Any high school senior can apply for the scholarship, art major or not.

“They don’t have to be just art majors, it can be anybody,” he said.

For more information, call 406-755-2727. For a complete schedule of events and list of participating artists, visit

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