Missoula, Bitterroot artists showcase work at coveted Scottsdale Arts Fest

Leonard Tinnell of Missoula submitted images of his work last fall in hopes of being selected to the Scottsdale Arts Festival. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

A number of western Montana artists joined the snowbirds in Arizona over the weekend to showcase their work, including a fused glass artist from Missoula and a wildlife photographer from Florence.

The Scottsdale Arts Festival, set over several grassy acres near the Center for the Performing Arts, attracted hundreds of artists from across the country working in a range of mediums, from ceramics to metal, painting to print making.

Leonard Tinnell of Missoula submitted images of his work last fall in hopes of being selected.

“It’s a juried show,” Tinnell said while greeting festival patrons at his booth. “A panel gets together and decides who they want to invite to the show. There’s always a lot more applicants than there are participants.”

Tinnell and his artist wife, Katie Patten, spend most of their time at their home in the lower Rattlesnake shaping glass. The founding members of the Four Ravens Art Gallery in downtown Missoula have been working with glass for more than 30 years.

Taking their work on the road is a matter of pride.

“There’s bigger festivals, but they’re not always as nice when it comes to the quality of the art,” Tinnell said. “I feel guilty because my wife is at home working in the studio.”

Tinnell picked a good time to showcase his work, leaving the subfreezing temperatures and snowpack of Missoula for bluer skies and 70-degree weather. While the Clark Fork River remained covered in ice, the fountains around Scottsdale ran free.

But despite the promise of warmer weather, Tinnell came to market his work.

“People say it must be fun to be an artist, but try doing it for 30 years,” he said. “It’s still nice to get out and meet people.”

Tinnell and Patten’s work covers a range of glassware, with small pieces fused together in brilliant colors. The mesmerizing yellows and greens illuminate a number of plates, platters and sculptures.

“It’s totally all glass pieces – no paint,” he said. “I bought my wife her first kiln in 1982, and we’ve been doing shows together since 1987. I had a stained glass shop in town my wife opened up in the late 1970s. I’ve been involved in glass since then.”

Tim DePuydt of Florence chats with patrons at the Scottsdale Arts Festival in Arizona. DePuydt has studied birds through his lens for more than a decade, and his work won him acceptance to this year’s festival. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Down the “Path of Creativity,” the photography of Tim DePuydt drew a crowd and a long list of questions. The Florence photographer has studied birds through his lens for more than a decade, and his work won him acceptance to this year’s festival.

“When you get accepted to a fine art show, it’s good,” he said. “But I really like the weather.”

DuPuydt’s work captures the birds of western Montana in stunning color and detail, from bald eagles to a number of owls with their piercing gaze. Living near the Bitterroot River provides him a front-row seat to the workings of nature.

“A lot of it is right in my own backyard,” he said. “You can’t shoot a bird, especially a hummingbird, from 100 yards because you’ll get a little speck, so you’ve got to get close. It’s slowly getting into them, learning their habits and where they’re at.”