WaterWorks Art Museum presents 'Women Artists Mentors'

A new exhibit titled “WAM Presents WAM” will open at the WaterWorks Art Museum (WAM) on Sunday.

Works by five women artists from around the world will be on display. They’ve named their group “Women Artists Mentors,” also known as WAM. An opening reception for the show is planned from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday with a talk about the artists and how this exhibit came to be starting at 2 p.m.

Then, on Saturday, April 15, two of the artists whose works are in the exhibit will be at the art museum for two closing receptions. The afternoon reception from 1-4 p.m. will include an artistic public involvement.

That evening, from 6-9 p.m., participants will have the opportunity to enjoy glasses of wine and visit with both artists.

The receptions are open to the public. For more information call (406) 234-0635 or email ccartc@midrivers.com. 

The concept of “Women Artists Mentors” started when the women were listening to the same radio show. 

“They got together on a call-in radio show,” said Dixie Rieger, executive director of the WaterWorks. “They found they had the same common goal: to mentor women artists.”

The five artists, listening to the same show in different parts of the world, resonated with what was being presented that day and decided to form their own artists’ mentoring group.

Pursuing a career in the visual arts can seem like a lonely endeavor. In essence, each member of the group is a one-woman show, creating art, marketing the art and doing all the daily tasks required to run a business. 

After listening to the concepts presented to them by the radio program that day, they thought it would be wonderful to confide in artists who wanted to achieve the same goals and support each other with a level of accountability in achieving those goals. They also felt it would be nice to receive advice from those who might have had more experiences in pursuing a career in the arts.

One woman reached out to another, and that woman reached out to another, and the group of five women who call themselves “Women Artists Mentors” (WAM) was formed.

Members of the group are Helen K. Beacham of Summerville, South Carolina; Maria Bennett Hock of Cary, North Carolina; Debra Keirce of Ashburn, Virginia; Kim Minichiello of Windermere, Florida; and Carrie Waller, of Tokyo, Japan.

Coming together in the spirit of friendship and to support each other’s art careers, WAM members meet once a month in a video chat online. Before that meeting, they agree on a topic of discussion that can range from reviewing each other’s websites to marketing strategies.

Not all members work in the same media and each has different levels of experience in pursuing a career in the arts. They all have something different and unique to bring to the table.

In May 2016 they had the opportunity to meet in Venice, Italy. Before then, some of the members had gotten together, but all five had never met in person. When Beacham proposed to the other members that they join her in Venice after she had taught a workshop there, plans were quickly made and finalized. As luck would have it, all the members flew into Venice from different parts of the world within one hour of each other. After enjoying the time they spent together, this year they are planning to meet in Montreal.

The bonds formed during the week in Venice not only solidified the group, whose members are committed to helping each other in art and business, but resulted in lasting, lifelong friendships.

Rieger said she and Keirce started emailing each other before the group decided on the Women Artists Mentors name. 

“We were in contact by email as friends,” said Rieger. She asked the Events and Exhibits committee members at the WaterWorks if they would like to have an exhibit by the group and, after reviewing the womens’ artworks, the show was scheduled. 

Rieger said she felt the show was meant to be held at the WaterWorks. “The show needs to be here,” said Rieger. “It’s the WAM at the WAM.”

Rieger has seen Keirce’s work displayed in North Carolina.

“Last year I was going to a wedding in the Outer Banks and mentioned it in an email to Deb. She told me she had a gallery at Kills Devil Hill, North Carolina, in the same area as the wedding, so my first stop there was at her gallery.

”Deb’s speciality is miniatures,” said Rieger. “Her part of the exhibit will include some full-sized works, but mostly small artworks with the largest being about 9 inches by 6 inches.”

Rieger said the artists are thrilled to be showing their work in Miles City.

“All of the artists are excited to be showing in this museum venue. They are so excited for their artworks to be focused on individually during this exhibit,” she said.

It was decided that the two WAM artists who will be visiting Miles City will make the trip for the show’s closing because the weather might be better in April. Rieger said she hopes that local and area residents will come to see the show in March and April, then come to the WaterWorks for the closing receptions to visit with the women about Women Artists Mentors and their art.

“By having shows by artists who are from other locations, we get a perspective of art that is a little different because their surroundings are different,” Rieger said. “Art is always in the eye of the beholder. We’re so fortunate here in Miles City because these artists are so willing to share their works with us.” 




The five women who are members of “Women Artists Mentors,” known as WAM, whose artworks will be on exhibit at the WaterWorks Art Museum through Saturday, April 15, include:

— Helen K. Beacham of Summerville, South Carolina. Beacham grew up in Montreal without formal art in her then young life. Around age 11, her father took her to meet one of his friends, who was a 60-year-old block printer. Beacham was blown away by the art in front of her. From that moment on, sketching became her fast friend until, at 28 years of age, she took a watercolor class. Watercolor is still her medium of choice.

— Maria Bennett Hock of Cary, North Carolina. Hock uses figures and portraits to paint concept pieces depicting particular moments in life that transcend social boundaries. She says a cursory glance will let the viewer see the picture, but not the story. These pieces are to be read. Hock’s days are filled with conceptualizing, defining and realizing concepts. Oil painting lets her ideas come to life in a way that communicates these ideas to the viewer.

— Debra Keirce of Ashburn, Virginia. Keirce, using oil or acrylic paints, can express places she has been, people she has met and challenges she has faced. Her paintings tell stories of unpredictable journeys through life. She paints in a tightly rendered realistic style with classical fantasy and Trompe L’Oeil influences. Keirce specializes in small and miniature paintings.

— Kim Minichiello of Windermere, Florida. Minichiello was led to pursue a career in the arts from her sensitivity to the environments created by man. As she travels the world, plein air painting or taking photographs, she finds herself relentlessly exploring and studying what makes each culture unique. Minichiello began sketching and painting unique visual clues of the cultures she explored, as well as the natural beauty of a place, which is her inspiration.

— Carrie Waller, who currently lives in Tokyo, Japan. Waller, a watercolor artist, works in a realistic, detailed style. Her unique works are bold, vibrant and dramatic. The difficulty of watercolor challenges her to push the medium by creating saturated colors and letting the white of the paper sparkle through to create dramatic lights. Waller says she loves the process of being a still-life painter. Her goal is to make the ordinary extraordinary.