An art installation comes to an end and a new round of artist talks begins

March marks the final month of artist Mary Mattingly’s Limnal Lacrimosa installation in the former Kalispell Malting and Brewing Company building, where visitors entering the dimly lit space for the first time are faced with a group of vessels positioned to catch rainwater drips and melting snow that is pumped up and traveled from floor to ceiling.

Limnal Lacrimosa (Lakes, Tears), opened to the public in July, and as Mattingly approaches the physical end of the project which concerns geological change, weather and shrinking glaciers in a warming climate, she is also slated to be part of the start of something new with the non-profit KALICO Art Center.

On March 11, KALICO will launch its new guest artist series, with its first Artist Talk event at Montana Modern Fine Art. The featured artist will be Mattingly, who will be in conversation with local curator Jenny Bevill. The series is expected to be a quarterly event going forward.

Bevill said she envisions a conversation that emphasizes audience engagement. She said she will introduce Mattingly and discuss some of the concepts that Limnal Lacrimosa interacts with, such as time as an element of art, and she will also give Mattingly a chance to discuss his work, including d other projects she has worked on. . Next, Bevill said, she wants to open things up to a Q&A session from an audience who can submit questions in writing, pose them on the microphone, or pass them on to the curator herself.

The event is free and open to the public, although a $15 donation is suggested. Bevill said invitations have been extended to art students at Flathead Valley Community College, as well as art students at Glacier High School, in an effort to include younger students.

The Artist Talk event is something of a milestone for KALICO, which in March 2020 was preparing for its grand opening for the first time. Melissa Wells, KALICO’s Acting Director of Program and Events, said the guest artist series is something KALICO has always had in mind.

“Art is so personal on the one hand, and also very public on the other, and I think it’s really interesting to bring those dynamics together, which I think you can do when you can interact and to have a conversation or hear an artist speak,” Wells said. “You bring in your ideas of what you’re feeling, and then you maybe experience the artist’s process, or their intent or their motivation. experience often opens things up for both parties, honestly.

Although the series was an ambition of the art center, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to achieve this vision. Wells recalls taking part in a Zoom appeal committee meeting to discuss the grand opening of the art center and first opening the doors when word started circulating about a lockdown in the state intended to slow the spread of the virus.

“We could never tell our KALICO story without the pandemic because we just changed and pivoted and changed what we can deliver all this time and what makes sense and what was safe,” Wells said.

Marshall Noice, owner of Montana Modern Fine Art where the conference will take place, said the series of guest artists will add a new dimension to the art culture in Kalispell.

“Mary Mattingly is an internationally renowned artist. And for someone of his stature to come to town and put together a facility like this, I think that sets the stage for more good things like this to happen,” Noice said. “And the guest artist series that KALICO has put together is sort of similar in that we hope we can bring interesting artists to Kalispell and give local art lovers the opportunity to broaden their horizons from from an artistic perspective and hear from artists and hopefully see artwork that they wouldn’t otherwise get to see.”

Noice said there are other opportunities for people to hear artists speak at Kalispell, but there’s a little more flexibility with the guest artist series in that it’s not linked to an exhibition “which is more of a major undertaking for an artist”. Part of maintaining the series will just be keeping an ear out for who might be in the area or county.

“If interesting and well-known artists came to the valley, because they were going to Glacier, and we knew about it, we would definitely try to contact them to see if they would spend a few hours with us talking about their work,” Noice said.

Limnal Lacrimosa has limited hours for public viewing, and in order to prepare for these, Mattingly has had to continue to maintain the system she created, in some cases climbing a ladder to remove sediment from the tube that helps circulate water. The installation includes a clepsydra, or water clock, created by Mattingly, which keeps time based on the weather, not days or seconds.

The change of seasons has caused changes in the natural light entering the space, and has also caused water to freeze and thaw, and sown barley and moss have grown over parts of the space which houses the various jugs, pots, containers and other vessels that catch water droplets.

Visitors included German art enthusiasts, students who stumbled upon the mostly unmarked art installation while driving on a Sunday afternoon, and a Missoula plumber who recounted the work and its relationship to water , on a deeply personal level.

Artist Mary Mattingly sits among ‘Limnal Lacrimosa’, a free public art project she created from bowls, bottles and other containers that collect water leaking through the roof of the old building at 5 6th Avenue West in Kalispell on August 3, 2021. Hunter D ‘Antuono | flathead beacon

Mattingly first heard of the Old Brew Building as a potential space for an installation while living in Brooklyn. The project is partly inspired by Mattingly’s experience reading “The Woman In The Dunes,” by 20th-century Japanese writer Kobo Abe. The novel’s material includes depictions of characters whose lives depend on their endless removal from the sand that continually pours into a building.

Mattingly arrived in Kalispell in April 2021. As Limnal Lacrimosa comes to an end, she said she feels sad, but tries to direct her thoughts to the world outside the old brewing building, including the spaces adjacent to the building where she tried to remedy. ground. Mattingly said she did some landscaping in that space and also sowed a freshman year of clover. She also plans to plant and grow edible food. Mattingly said the facility in some form could be recreated one day. She also said she plans to return to Kalispell.

“I think the outside will be thriving, hopefully,” Mattingly said. “I’m looking towards this right now, and I’m not thinking about the loss, but I know it’s coming.”

The Artist Talk with Mary Mattingly will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 11 at Montana Modern Fine Art at 127 S. Main Street. Masks are encouraged during the two-hour event. The event is free, but there is a suggested donation of $15. A video of the event will be available for viewing afterwards.

For Limnal Lacrimosa visiting hours, visit

About Irene J. O'Donnell

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