Studios, students join forces for Culture Crawl
by Nathan Boddy
Hamilton’s icy sidewalks were not enough to dampen cultural exploration on Saturday, January 9. Art lovers made their way along Main Street to participating venues for poetry, music, and to see some of the artistic expressions of area artists, as well as art installations from the Hamilton High School students.
Barbara Liss, owner of Montana Bliss Artworks, has long been the driving force behind the Culture Crawl events which take place on Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in downtown Hamilton, and was happy to see some of the new faces that appeared at following participation by Hamilton students. “It’s a different profile,” Liss said. “We saw a lot of kids coming today so it’s exciting! They arrive in groups.
While the Culture Crawl has continued since Liss reinvigorated the event in 2017, the high school participation is the result of joint planning between Liss, the Hamilton Downtown Association and Daniele Vickers, art teacher at Hamilton High School. After several months of creative effort, the students were ready to exhibit their work to the community at several locations in Hamilton, including Big Creek Coffee, Chapter One Bookstore, and Paper Clip. Their theme, Pop Culture, presented representations of characters and props and challenged viewers to make their best guess at the spectacle represented by the artwork. Liss said of the challenge: “You’re welcome to google, so have fun with it.”
Jean Driescher, artist and education coordinator at Bliss, said: “Normally we don’t have a Culture Crawl in January, but Daniele is committed to connecting her students to community and art. That’s why she came to the Hamilton Downtown Association, to make this happen. She’s engaged. It’s nice to see this because it’s hard to get busy teachers involved.
Montana Bliss Artworks, along with other participating studios, tried to stay engaged with students for more than the Culture Crawl event. “Our goal is always to have all ages, and that’s why we like to do them on Saturday rather than a Friday night event,” Liss said. She also adds that her studio offers free workshops for children during the summer months, as well as an “Emerging Artists” program for young artists. Not limited to painting or sculpture, however, music and poetry were also the order of the day.
“We do poetry readings from 11 am to noon and it’s growing. Today we had a student who wrote a poem and her mother wrote a poem. So we love to see new faces and all ages making poems. We try to get the whole community, not just the students but the whole community, to get involved in art.
Another of the artists at Saturday’s event was Bobbi Dye, whose “Travel Montana Graphic Poster Series” was on display. Locals will quickly recognize Dye’s repeated landscape as one of the most spectacular views the valley has to offer. Dye, from Montana, says it was her grandfather who named Roaring Lion Creek, and the Montana landscape is a “huge source of pride” to her.
“I grew up in this area and saw almost everything,” Dye said. “How can you not be inspired? ”