These white Adirondack chairs are serving as the blank canvases for local artists to work their creative magic on this summer. PHOTO COURTESY ELYSSE CONKLIN

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Artists adding color to Adirondack chairs

After more than a year without much to speak of re: community art projects, artists around the county have signed up to not only create beautiful pieces of art, but also benefit the Madison Valley Medical Center Foundation.

MVMC Foundation Executive Director Dawn Conklin recently announced that a dozen artists will take part in the upcoming fundraiser – each being given an Adirondack chair as their blank canvas. The creative magic is currently underway, with the chairs to be silently auctioned off throughout the month of July.

“We see this as an opportunity to partner with local artists not only to raise funds, but also as a community building activity,” said Conklin. “It has a bigger purpose at this point in time, after this long season of hibernation.”

Husband and wife painters Lexi and Bern Sundell will be collaborating on a chair for the project. Lexi is known for her contemporary wildlife and floral paintings and Bern for his fly-fishing and trout focused art as well as his Native American warrior series.

A year-and-a-half of medical catastrophe, said Lexi, is what motivated her and Bern to donate their time and creativity to the MVMC Foundation. A blocked artery in Bern’s leg resulted in the accidental finding of a massive aneurism – he was rushed to Seattle for surgeries and stints. Complications came after. A serious infection led to a life or death scenario requiring an air lift to Billings where he stayed for nearly two months. Finally on the mend, Bern was brought to MVMC where Lexi said he received priceless care.

“The staff was incredible,” said Lexi, who has lost track of the times her husband has been in the emergency room. “The doctor, his nurses, the cleaning people. Everyone was incredibly wonderful to this man. We are just so grateful to them.”

Bern was even allowed to have a mini painting studio and fly-tying supplies in his room, creating a truly positive experience during a trying time. Even a spilled jar of silver paint didn’t faze the hospital team, though there is a mug circulating around the hospital with mysterious silver splatters.

Bern is doing better and, by the way, save for the spider bite he recently received in Arizona. He and Lexi are now deciding what they want to do with their chair – Lexi said they might cover it in clouds.

Conklin expressed her gratitude to the artists who will use the one-of-a-kind canvases to ultimately beautify the community and bolster the medical center. “We are humbled by the support of our artists as they generously give of their time and talents and acknowledge that each one of them is making a difference in our community,” she said.

Artists participating include: Sarah Morris, Mike Maydak, Linda Maydak, Gale Arvanites, Carol Clarkson, Sheri Jarvis, Lexi & Bern Sundell, Cathy Toot, Christina Blackledge and others. Check back with The Madisonian in the coming weeks for artist highlights leading up to the silent auction.

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