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Local Artists Want Your Vote

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KALISPELL -

It is like the People's Choice Awards is coming to Kalispell.

This is the twelfth year of the Members Salon at the Hockaday Museum of Art, where members submit a piece of work for patrons to pick the top three, but they have never had a first prize like this.

Even though voting has commenced in earnest, Ed Gillenwater is not too nervous.

"It doesn't feel like a competitive thing for most of us, I think," said Gillenwater.

Gillenwater got back into painting just five years ago, since he did not have time when he had a full-time marketing job.

"I wouldn't consider myself a professional, like I say it's more of an avocation," explained Gillenwater.

More than 120 Montana artists submitted pieces for the salon. Although Gillenwater chose to submit one of his landscapes depicting Mud Creek near his home, he also paints wildlife and makes custom furniture.

"This event is special because there are so many creative personalities and artists in the Valley," said Elizabeth Moss, the executive director of the museum, "and many of them are not professionals."

People have a wide range of objects to vote on beginning November 14 at the Hockaday, from sculptures to paintings, and even pieces of clothing.

"They might vote for their own piece. They might vote for another artist, too. I think that's the challenge: to be as objective as you can," said Moss.

"I just think the Hockaday is a really beautiful gallery... It's a great community institution. Mainly I just want to support it by being active and putting my paintings in here," said Gillenwater.

For the first time, the artist who collects the most votes gets their own exhibition in the Hockaday next fall.

"The possibility is pretty remote, I think for me, but you bet it'd be great," said Gillenwater.

Voting closes December 14 and the winner will be announced the following Tuesday, December 17.

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