Kalispell Fridays now fun 

While Missoula has been drawing locals downtown for wine, cheese and a gallery hop on the first Friday of the month for years, Kalispell is just warming up to the idea, but it seems to be taking hold already.

On Friday, Aug. 27, Kalispell art galleries, studios and museums invited the public to check out (mostly) local art from 5 to 8 p.m. The open gallery nights were originally dubbed “Final Friday” when they started in June, but Jeanna Nixon, communications director for the Hockaday Museum of Art, says that name has since been changed to “Fun Friday” because “some people thought [Final Friday] meant that places were going out of business.”

With the name difficulties sorted out, Kalispell’s third Fun Friday featured alluring artistry in downtown Kalispell at several locations, including the Hockaday, where admission was free and the landscapes of Leonard Lopp were on display.

Nixon says the Hockaday typically sees 20 to 30 people in a day; with free admission on Fun Friday, she says that number has risen to around 75.

Larry Johnson, a woodturner and member of the artists’ co-op Sassafras Gallery on Main St., which adds live music to the mix, says he’s also seen increased traffic.

Though Kalispell’s art sellers are obviously still looking to make money, Fun Friday emphasizes collaboration rather than competition, which makes sense to Noice Studio & Gallery’s Marion Gerrish, mother of expressionist painter Marshall Noice.

“Each one of us has our own specific niche,” Gerrish says. “I don’t think competition is a part of our vocabulary. We support each other.”

Nixon thinks the new, monthly art nights will draw newcomers into the fold of the Kalispell art scene.

“There are a lot of people who live here who hadn’t ever been in the museum,” she says. “We want to reach those people.”

A fourth and final Fun Friday of the year will be held on Sept. 24 before a winter hiatus.

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