Benefits of Exposure and Sale for River Valley Charities – The Free Weekly

April Wallace

You don’t have to be a seasoned art buyer, deep-pocketed, or pumped up to find your way around and make a purchase at Art on the Border.

Organizers Joan McCoy and Donna Skinner say the event will be filled with signage, hosts and friendly volunteers pointing you in the right direction – to art and popular items with a starting price of $2-$20. .

“It’s not all $400 to $500 items,” Skinner says. “A lot of people think ‘Oh I can’t afford to go there,’ but no, there’s jewelry, whimsical art for kids’ rooms, animal art…”

When the couple began organizing the first Art on the Border exhibition and sale in 2014, they struggled to find artists. This year’s Fort Smith event, however, has 77 participants – the most in its history.

The artists hail from the River Valley and northwest Arkansas, of course, but also from neighboring states – Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri and Tennessee. They will be selling their artwork, jewelry, charcuterie boards, wind chimes and more on July 22-23. Net proceeds benefit ArTs of Bost, Good Samaritan Clinic, Gregory Kistler Treatment Center and Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House.

In the beginning, “we went out walking through the bushes looking for artists; it was not our domain at all,” says McCoy. McCoy and Skinner had organized many golf classics and tournaments until a board member suggested they do an art exhibit. They started with 14 artists, and it has grown every year except for the last two, when the show was stalled due to the pandemic.

“Artists have become like family to us; it’s like a reunion every year,” Skinner says. “Thirty-eight of them are coming back, and four or five have come since all the way back in 2014.”

Perhaps the most relevant change to the show for patrons and performers may be the venue, making it an indoor, air-conditioned event for the first time since its inception. The ever-growing number of artists involved has pushed the event from Frisco Station downtown to the Blue Lion and Fort Smith Pavilion and this year to the ACHE Research Institute Health and Wellness Center.

“The main difference is that others tend to be outdoors,” says artist Amy Passmore, who sells art through her business Amy Eichler Fine Art. This aspect is a little more important to her at the moment, when she is eight months pregnant. Passmore sold out their colorful acrylic paintings of animals and humans at the 2018 and 2019 shows. “One of the best things they have is volunteers to help set up and help artists tear down (their retail areas) and watching us throughout the day.”

It’s this Southern hospitality that Skinner and McCoy say keeps artists coming back year after year. When choosing artists to be part of the show, the main consideration is whether they do things that people really love and want in them.

Passmore’s big cat paintings tend to sell the fastest, second only to the Boar, aka the Razorback. Paintings of ballerinas and other dancers and nursery animals are also popular.

This time she will have both original paintings and canvas prints for sale and will be painting on location throughout the two day event as it can be interesting to see an artist’s process in stock. She describes her own style of painting as loose, free and expressive and paints quickly and energetically.

“If I think about it too much, it gets overworked,” she says.

Art on the Border is a great event for regular Passmore patrons, she says, because of the Friday night invitational opening show and “Meet the Artists Party.” Guests have the opportunity to purchase works of art before they are offered to the general public the following day.

“If my customers have their eye on an original, now is the time to get it,” says Passmore.



Art at the border

WHEN — 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 22 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 23

WHERE – ACHE Research Institute Health and Wellness Center (formerly Golden Living), 1000 Fianna Way in Fort Smith

COST — The July 22 event is by invitation and requires a $20 donation at the door; Admission on July 23 is free


FYI – You can get an invitation to the July 22 event by emailing [email protected]

Dora W. Clawson