Mail fraud and female grief 

Own a phone? Then chances are solid that you’ve played one of modern life’s most ubiquitous parlor games: Smack in the middle of a) gutting a turkey; b) sponging dog stink off a soapy hound; or c) settling in for a little “light reading” on the porcelain armchair, the phone rings. You drop what you’re doing and dash for the receiver in time to hear a scratchy, stammering voice in some distant city perform a hatchet job on your name, and then proceed to tell you about an exciting new offer that can save you dumpsters full of money. After you politely express disinterest, the voice launches the obligatory counteroffensive, to which you offer your more emphatic variation on “bite me!> at which point The Voice reels off a toll-free number in case you change your mind.

Nine times out of ten, it’s a benign, though irritating, encounter. In fact, illegal telemarketing bilks Americans out of an estimated $40 billion annually, and with more than half the victims over the age of 50, the U.S. Postal Service, AT&T and about a half-dozen advocacy groups have launched a massive anti-telemarketing fraud campaign to teach folks how to keep their checking accounts in their own name. Under KNOW FRAUD, every home in America—or approximately 120 million mailboxes—will soon receive a postcard warning people to beware of callers who say you’ve won a prize but must first send money, instruct you to wire money, offer to send someone to your home to pick up your money, or request your credit card number. As with all things in life, not all that glitters is gold, and you rarely get something for nothing, present publication excepted, of course. For more free information on KNOW FRAUD, or to report a telemarketing scam, call 1-800-987-3728. Send no money. Don’t wait. Act now.

•••

And from our Congratulatory Curators Department, we have this: Dillon artist Cathy Weber received national acclaim recently by being bestowed with The Athena Award Celebrating Activist Women Artists, in far-off Pennsylvania. The prize comes in conjunction with a nationwide, juried exhibition called Extraordinary Art: Beyond the Museum II, a show sponsored by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts that features the work of artists who, in one way or another, have endured gut-wrenching struggle, be it physical or mental impairments, terminal illness, violence or trauma. But it was Weber’s series of two-dimensional works, which she created during a period of mourning for her partner of 15 years, that caught the eyes of the show’s judges and earned her the award. What she managed to do, in short, was to transform something painful into something beautiful. And, when you think about it, isn’t that what art is all about?

Weber maintains her own storefront studio and gallery in downtown Dillon and is represented by Sutton West gallery here in town. You’ll be able to see her award-winning series yourself, when it comes to the Art Museum of Missoula in May 2000.

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