Local artists donate talent for Boys and Girls Club fundraiser

Local artists donate talent for Boys and Girls Club fundraiser

The Boys and Girls Club is gearing up for the annual Festival of Trees fundraising event, and this year they have added something extra-special: painted church pews.

Since 2007, the Boys and Girls Club has been located in what used to be Emmanuel Baptist Church, and with a sanctuary filled with church pews, Club Director Abby Franks saw an opportunity for a unique way to raise funds.

Artist Melody LarkLocal Artist Melody Lark sketches the outline of the tree she will be painting on the four-foot church pew. Lark’s pew is just one of the four that will be auctioned off at the Festival of Trees event on Dec. 7.

Photo by Jennifer Johnson



After selling as many of the 20-foot pews as possible, Franks had the remaining ones cut into 4-foot sections to be painted by local artists and auctioned off at the Festival of Trees fundraiser on Dec.7.

“Bob Passow cut the pews into sections,” said LaVonne Limpus Boy and Girls Club resource development representative. “Then we found sponsors to pay for the paint and supplies and local artists to donate time and talent.”

Rural Artist of Montana, an online publication, along with a number of local individuals is sponsoring artists Melody Lark, Adam Grensten, James Russell and Jacqueline Mercenier for the project.

“Every single one said ‘yes’ immediately without question. It’s neat to see people working together to help the club,” Limpus said.

Limpus said the sponsors suggested a theme for three out of the four pews and the artists were more than willing to accommodate them.

Lark was given the option of a landscape or cowboy theme.

“I thought about it a lot and my idea was to make the pew back into a tree,” she said. “I want to take it back to its roots and make it into a free flowing tree.”

The first step, Lark said, was to sand the finish off and expose the bare wood.

“I sketched the design and right now I’m working on burning the design into the wood,” she explained. “I’m going to use a thin oil paint along with stain. I want the wood to be visible through the design.”

Lark said she is happy to support the Boys and Girls Club and is excited to be a part of the project.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “I am also happy that local organizations are bringing local artists into their projects.”

Russell said he was also happy to be chosen as one of the featured artists.

“I was the artist that did not have a theme assigned and I was really happy about that. I had all kinds of ideas at first then I narrowed it down. I wanted a theme with some local history,” he said. “I wanted something from antiquities, but with a local flavor so I chose to do a replica of the Bear Gulch pictographs with my own flavor and style.”

Although Russell said he has not started painting his pew yet, he has the project planned and is excited to get started.

“I am going to spray paint the whole thing black and highlight areas as though they are being explored with a flashlight for the first time in the dark,” he explained. “I am going to paint buffalo from a pictograph cave in France on either side of the shield warriors from the local pictograph cliffs.”

Russell said he is looking forward to creating a pew that will raise funds for the Boys and Girls Club.

“I think it’s great that people have a chance to acquire one of these benches painted by an up and coming artist,” Limpus said. “People are always willing to step up for the Boys and Girls Club and we always need to raise funds. This is our big end-of-the-year push.”

Now that the pews have been cleared out, the club members have been using the former sanctuary for a recreation room for club members.

“There is a pool table, a ping pong table, books and a little classroom area,” Limpus said. “It’s really nice for the kids and they love it.”

By Jennifer Johnson, News-Argus Staff Writer
Published in the Lewistown News-Argus, November 4, 2013

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  • Boys & Girls Club

    134 Park Street
    Lewistown, Montana

    Club Hours
    Monday - Friday
    School Year: 3:15-6:15 pm Summer: 7:40 am-5:30 pm

    Phone (406) 535-2257

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