It didn’t take long for the folks at Opportunity Resources Inc., to get the hang of these arts and crafts shows.

One year after their inaugural Christmas show, there’s a new kiln, an expanded art room and the general feeling that this is one of those cool Missoula things that’s just taking off.

They’ll know for sure by Christmas Eve, after a three-week show in the ORI lobby at 2821 S. Russell St., that opens Monday.

The adult clients of Opportunity, the nonprofit organization that daily serves 500 people with disabilities, sold $9,000 in pottery, framed art, calendars, jewelry, greeting cards and picnic tables and benches last December.

The show was kept in-house after Opportunity lost its First Friday showcase in downtown Missoula due to a remodel of the Palace Hotel. Its success led to another successful market at ORI headquarters in May in conjunction with Mother’s Day.

Opportunity also had a booth at the Saturday Market in Missoula for the first time.

“We’ve been competing at the fair so we’ve got a number of artists with awards. And right now we have an exhibit over at the Missoula Art Museum. We’re up there for almost four months,” said Tim Furey, director of development.

Tom Lind, Opportunity’s art director, says people who stop by the Christmas show should expect to be amazed at the quality of the art. For the past six months, he’s had two new staff members, the mother and daughter team of Peggy and Ashley Geiger. They help free Lind up to concentrate on making pottery.

“We’ve got the new kiln, so the quality of our wares is a lot higher now,” Lind said. “And the clients that I work on the pottery with have a year’s more expertise.”

They’ve built a lot of shadow candles for Christmas, and the variety of ceramic pieces has expanded.

Last year Chris Olson sold an “amazing piece” of art for $650 – “a beautiful digital that was blown up and framed really nice,” Lind said.

Jeff Sweten is one of the more prolific artists. An acrylics and oil painter, Sweten will have landscape prints on display throughout the show.

“He’s really an accomplished artist,” Lind said.

Another featured artist this year Ken Dalton, produces both pottery and two-dimensional art. One of his latter works was selected as the cover piece of ORI’s 2014 New Image 2014 calendar.

Dalton generated the piece on a computer, but there’s nothing “canned” in it, Lind said. “There’s nothing that would have been already produced.”

In Dalton’s picture, clouds float under a flying mechanical bird that “just seems to be doing great up there,” Lind said. “It’s got all this sort of machinery behind it made out of a rainbow brush.”

That and the other 12 prints were selected for the calendar by Brandon Reintjes, curator of the Montana Museum of Art and Culture at the University of Montana, from some 120 entries. They’ll be on sale around Missoula as well as at the Christmas show, as will greeting cards featuring the art of ORI clients.

Reporter Kim Briggeman can be reached at (406) 523-5266 or by email at kbriggeman@missoulian.com.

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