Abby Lynes for Missoulian
Every piece of art has a story, and the organizers of this year’s Made Fair summer want you to hear it.
“It’s as much about celebrating the process and the story as it is the final piece,” said Carol Lynn Lapotka, one of the event’s founders.
Rain or shine, the 14th Annual Missoula Summer Made Fair will take place at Caras Park on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., featuring 165 performers, each with their own story to tell. Planners had to choose these artists from a pool of about 250 applicants, with about 24% new artists, Lapotka said.
There are so many up-and-coming artists in Missoula that it’s hard to choose candidates to participate in the fair, she said. Jurors are looking for people who are doing something new.
“It’s a pretty competitive show to be on,” she said. “We’re looking for some kind of unique trick – someone who puts a new twist on an old skill type.”
One of the new faces at this year’s fair is Monica Gilles-BringsYellow, a self-taught artist who typically paints portraits of Aboriginal people using materials like ink, acrylic and resin. Her paintings are usually two-dimensional but are designed to look 3D, she said.
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Gilles-BringsYellow said she was thrilled to show her art to an audience that wouldn’t usually get the chance to see it. At art shows, attendees usually have an art background, but the Made Fair attracts a wide range of people with all kinds of interests.
And she learns from different artists and makes connections, which can be hard to do as an artist.
“A lot of times art can be lonely,” she said. “Having to talk to other artists is helpful because they can give you advice or whatever and you just build camaraderie and talk to other people in the same boat.”
She is also eager to portray people in her paintings.
“I also like to tell stories about the people who are in the portraits I do,” she said. “Especially because it’s the native women who usually don’t have anyone to tell their stories about them.”
One of the paintings in Gilles-BringsYellow’s house depicts her husband’s great-grandmother, an Aboriginal woman who was murdered when she was 40 years old. His death was never investigated. Another shows Agnes Vandenberg at a Salish cultural camp, where she teaches traditional techniques and methods like cooking camas and scraping hides.
Gilles-BringsYellow is Nahau, Huichol and Métis, and her husband is Salish. She spends a lot of time in Arlee, she says, and often paints Salish. She said she was always interested in finding the real story that might have been hidden or glossed over, and looked forward to sharing those stories at Made Fair.
“It really helps get your work out there, especially to people who might not otherwise see it,” she said. “Not everyone will go to an art show, but a lot of people will go to the Made Fair.”