Creating space for art
Art abounds from one end of the Flathead Valley to the other, from wildlife paintings and intricate stained glass to the creations that come from the artist in each of us.
FUN FOR THE HOLIDAYS AT STUMPTOWN ART STUDIO
Stumptown Art Studio has been a staple in the Whitefish community for the past 26 years.While it’s a well-known spot for pottery painting, the studio also provides a unique opportunity to create fused glassworks. This holiday season, locals can take home something extra special for their Christmas trees or winter windows – their very own fused-glass ornaments, made in one of Stumptown’s seasonal ornament-making workshops.
Studio manager Jessica Inez first introduced the craft to Stumptown nearly 20 years ago. Not only is fused glass unique, Inez said it’s much easier to do than it appears.
“It’s very much like doing a mosaic,” she explained. “You’re using broken bits to create one image.”
The studio provides precut ornament bases and then teaches students how to cut and attach smaller pieces to create their own custom decorations, which the staff then finishes by firing in a glass kiln for 24 hours. In past years, glass ornaments have featured elements ranging from fireplaces and Christmas trees to classic cold-weather creatures like penguins and polar bears.
The cost to participate is $45, which includes five ornaments and a two-hour work session, with the option to finish any incomplete ornaments at a later date. Parties of six or more also have the option of reserving a private class by contacting the studio.
To register or learn more, visit www.stumptownartstudio.org.
STAINED GLASS CREATIONS AT THE ART STUDIO
Not many 16-year-old boys fall in love with stained glass, but that’s exactly what happened to Richard Turbiak. As a kid growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s, he developed an interest in making his own terrariums. When he took some panes of glass to a local craft shop for cutting, the owners didn’t have the heart to charge him. In return, Turbiak enrolled in their stained glass class – and that was all it took.
After working elsewhere for years, in both the corporate world and other glass studios, Turbiak settled in Kalispell, where he opened The Art Studio in January 2020.
While he also performs repairs and restoration work, Turbiak specializes in commissioned pieces. Many of them celebrate natural elements like floral designs or birds, such as a recent piece entitled “Great Blue Heron.”
“The client said, ‘I want a heron.’ That was my direction,” Turbiak recalled.
He used that creative freedom to play with form and color – selecting brilliant greens to surround the bird and a multifaceted wing design capped off with a bright red-orange beak.
The piece showcases his mastery of glass design and attention to detail in the meticulous alignment of more than 300 individual glass fragments and the uniform soldering that joins them. The effect is much more than the sum of its parts.
“I try to let the light play through the glass – it’s the light that takes it somewhere,” he said. “It sparks joy.”
To see more work or inquire about commissions, call (720) 626-9928 or visit www.theartstudiollcmt.com.
THE BEAUTY OF MONTANA AT THE BRETT THUMA GALLERY
A wolf lies still, but not quite relaxed, in a snowy, wooded meadow. Its perked ears and vibrant yellow eyes let the viewer know the animal is alert, but not aggressive. For Bigfork painter and photographer Brett Thuma, that subtlety is what makes “Woodland Watcher” one of his favorite paintings.
Thuma, in true Montana fashion, grew up exploring the outdoors. He began painting the creatures that fascinated him, studying the natural world with a canvas. The resulting pieces are true to reality, but he’s not striving for photorealism. Thuma might enhance colors here and there or merge elements from different places into a single scene.
“Woodland Watcher” is a prime example of his integrated landscapes. To accurately capture his subject, Thuma observed a pack of wolves in captivity, zeroing in on one particular animal that had just been awoken from a nap. He painted the gentle yet vigilant expression and added outside elements like a fallen branch he’d encountered on the Swan River Nature Trail and old growth forests from the west shore of Swan Lake.
It was important to Thuma that his interpretation of the wolf not overexaggerate the animal’s predatory nature.
“I make a point of showing them doing something interesting, but maybe more mundane,” Thuma explained. “There’s been so much legend and myth piled onto them because it sells books and documentaries, but the monster side of them is such a tiny percentage of their actual regular behavior.”
To see more of Brett Thuma’s wildlife paintings, visit his Bigfork gallery at 459 Electric Avenue or online at
Photos: Mandy Mohler
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