Renowned Western artist Nancy Dunlop Cawdrey has moved her studio and gallery from Bigfork to Whitefish, but there’s a new dimension to the Cawdrey family’s business endeavors.
Cypress Yard is a year-round event venue that will operate at the gallery, offering up to 4,000 square feet of indoor space and a spacious landscaped outdoor space with options for groups of 20 to 200 people.
The event center and gallery will operate side by side in the former Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits building at 204 Wisconsin Ave.
Morgan Cawdrey, the son of Nancy and Steve Cawdrey, will manage both the event venue and gallery. An artist and art event manager, Morgan got the idea for combining events and art when he attended his best friend’s wedding that was held at a three-story art gallery in Boulder, Colorado.
“It made sense,” he said. “There was art on the walls. It was a great space.”
A year-round wedding venue is a valuable commodity in Whitefish and the Flathead Valley, which has become a popular place for destination weddings.
But Cypress Yard isn’t just for weddings, Morgan stressed. It’s available for any number of cultural events, corporate meetings, board meetings, nonprofit fundraisers and family celebrations.
The inaugural event was a 30th wedding anniversary party for a local couple.
There’s a full commercial kitchen at Cypress Yard that will be operated by Michael Cartwright of Cartwright Catering. Those using the center can tap into Cartwright’s culinary expertise or can bring in their own caterer. Certified bartenders who have an off-premise license can set up at events there, too.
Morgan said he’s looking into the business getting its own cabaret license for wine and beer.
The Cawdreys didn’t know about the vacated distillery building when Nancy began talking about downsizing from their 11-acre property near Bigfork. Morgan has been living in Whitefish for the past six years and began scoping out potential spaces. Once the distillery building became available things fell into place. The Cawdreys sold their Bigfork property and bought a home in Whitefish. They lease the gallery and event facility from Tom LaChance, who once had his construction company offices in the building. The structure has a long history in Whitefish, operating originally as an auto-shop garage.
While Cypress Yard is making its debut in Whitefish, there’s a lot happening in the art world, too. Nancy continues to draw devoted admirers both nationally and internationally for her mastery of the ancient art form of painting with dye on silk. Vibrant colors, textures and patterns come together to create her signature style.
At the forefront for Nancy right now is the Forever Glacier legacy project. She is creating a series of large colorful silk paintings honoring 15 large mammals and five additional pieces showing an assortment of the small mammals who live or have lived in Glacier National Park.
The Cawdreys have shared the idea with the Glacier Park Conservancy and Glacier Park enthusiasts who want to help create the legacy project.
“The concept is to create a traveling exhibit of paintings of Glacier mammals to help get more people, especially younger people, engaged in taking ownership of this park,” Nancy said.
A dozen sponsors already have stepped up to help make the project a reality.
The Forever Glacier paintings will go on tour to be exhibited at various high-profile galleries. Eventually the entire exhibit will hang in a place where future generations of Glacier visitors can enjoy the display.
Western Masters Inc., a nonprofit corporation that promotes local and regional artists of the American West, will own and administer the Forever Glacier project and arrange the traveling exhibit.
Mentoring young artists has long been a passion for Nancy. She’s helped several aspiring artists who now are doing very well. Steve, who handles the business side of marketing Nancy’s artwork, also has devoted time to helping young artists learn what it takes to make a living at creating art.
Education will be a part of her new studio. Nancy is teaching a silk painting class Oct. 6-8 at the studio, and she’s starting “Wednesday with Nancy” weekly open studio sessions from 1 to 6 p.m.
Lauren Arsen, a local portrait artist, also will teach at the studio.
“We hope to mentor kids in this valley,” Steve said. “We’re interested in helping people enjoy art. It helps feed the soul.”
Nancy conducts Facebook online art auctions every couple of months, and Morgan hosts digital auctions as a way to tap into a different segment of the market.
Morgan is adding yet another dimension to the business by conducting art appraisals. He’s completing the course work through New York University to be certified in art appraisal by this fall.
For more information about Cypress Yard, go to https://www.cypressyard.com or call 406-781-0550.
For more information about Nancy Cawdrey Studio and Gallery go to https://nancycawdrey.com or call 406-249-6222.
Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or firstname.lastname@example.org.