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By Ed Moreth 


Local creativity shines in annual event


Ed Moreth

CANE CARVING – Darrell Sorenson of the Plains Carving Club works on his walking stick during the Artists in Paradise 2019 show at the Paradise Center.

A group of Plains people showed their artistic talents in Paradise last week with the Artists in Paradise 2019, an annual event put on by the Sanders County Arts Council.

An estimated 350 people showed up for the art show Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Paradise Center, where eight artists displayed a variety of mediums - paintings, drawings, photograph, wood carvings, glassware and pottery.

"Because of unforeseen circumstances in some of our vendors' lives, we had fewer artists this year, but it was a great show," said Ilene Paulsen, the event coordinator and a watercolor and acrylic artist. Paulsen has participated in the show for the last three years, but this is the first year for her son, Malachi, who had graphite, ink and colored pencil art. The 19-year-old Malachi has won several accolades for his work, including Best of Show in the Montana Junior Duck Stamp Contest earlier this year. His mother painted two large murals on the outside wall of the Garden, Gift & Floral building in Plains last year with artist Rick Harter, who normally shows his paintings at the show but couldn't this year.

This is the sixth year for the Sanders Council Arts Council's Artists in Paradise, which at times have had up to nearly 20 artists in the show spread out in the old schoolhouse, outside and in the auditorium, where all the artists were this year.

There was no admission fee, so it was difficult for organizers to have a definite count of guests, but Karen Thorson, one of the artists who has helped coordinate the event in the past, believed there were about 100 people on Thursday and over that amount the following two days.

"People seem to come from far and wide, but I saw a lot of familiar faces that came for the baroque festival," said Joy Nelson, the newly elected president of the Sanders County Arts Council. Nelson said they had a lot of people from out of town, but she especially appreciated the support of the local people.

The Plains Carving Club had its own booth this year. Tom Collins, the Plains judge and president of the club, showed some of the club's work last year along with his work, but this year nine club members - five men and four women - showed more than 50 items from a 1 1/2-inch chip carving by Jean Nemeth of Camas Prairie, the only non- Plains resident in the show, to a three-foot tall horse by Collins. Nemeth was also one of three musicians who volunteered to entertain artists and guests with her harmonica music. Chilaili Wachiwi, a Crow living in Trout Creek, played Native American music on the flute while decked out in colorful Indian apparel. "Chili" joined in with Tom Clontz of Hot Springs, who played country western music. Chili switched between 10 flutes during her numerous sessions throughout the event. Nemeth used five harmonicas for her performances and when she wasn't playing, she was working on her carving of a dog head that will eventually go on a walking stick. Darrell Sorensen of Plains worked on his near six-foot walking stick Friday and Saturday. Sorensen was a student of Paradise Elementary School, now the Paradise Center, from 1964-1972.

Brad Stacey of the Plains Carving Club had only two relief carvings in the show, but he also had 15 custom made decorative wood turning pieces, which were also functioning art. For the fourth consecutive year Ellen Childress had her Whistle Creek Pottery booth with more than 300 pieces of hand-thrown stoneware.

The event included activities for attendees, such as a painting station and two large boards where people could try their hand at string art with several different color strings and push pins. "It's a way for people to find their own creativity," said Thorson, who had oil and watercolor paintings and fused glass. She also gave an alcohol ink art demonstration. Thorson and Collins were the only two artists that have participated in the show all six years.

Orvall Kuester for the third year had his display of nature photography, which included an aircraft dropping its load of retardant on a fire and him, he told people.


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