Neat and organized are perfect words to describe the artwork of Kalispell-based photographer Mandy Mohler.
Mohler’s art stems from her habit of organizing items during a 2012 residency at the U.S. Forest Service's Spruce Park cabin in the Great Bear Wilderness. While she couldn’t bring much with her, she was drawn to objects in the cabin and began to categorize and photograph them.
“It’s really satisfying a little bit of OCD in my mind that I can’t access in the rest of my life,” Mohler said.
At an art show later, Mohler was surprised to receive the most feedback on prints of various tools and other implements from the cabin. And when she was invited to be part of a gallery show in Bigfork, she decided to merge her love of portrait photography with her newfound popularity in taxonomy.
She made portraits of people who work with their hands in nature and corresponding taxonomies of the tools they use in their jobs.
“The tools and the things that people use and collect are often a better description of who they are as a person than their face alone,” Mohler said.
Mohler is one of the artists who will be selling handmade goods at the Summer MADE Fair from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in Caras Park. She will have a set of prints, notebooks and greeting cards featuring her taxonomy images.
“We try to find more unique artists that aren’t in the mainstream, art show group of folks. People who are a little bit quirky, a little different,” said Carol Lynn Lapotka, founder and lead organizer of the MADE Fair.
Lapotka and the other people behind the MADE Fair sifted through about 160 applications they received to find 108 artists who will be selling their wares Sunday. About one-quarter of the artists are new to the event.
This will be the seventh Summer MADE Fair, in addition to the eight holiday events that take place in December.
While the MADE Fair early on leaned toward people who made a little bit of money off their hobbies, Lapotka said the trend now is people who have taken their craft full time.
“I know a lot of my friends have just dropped their jobs and said I’m going to follow my passion. The public is starting to demand the handmade, U.S.-made, more unique kind of things that the big box stores aren’t carrying,” she said.
With the temperature Sunday expected to reach triple digits, Lapotka said the organizers are encouraging people to come to the MADE Fair early and bring water.
“We have a strong lemonade vendor who is really gearing up for it, and we’re going to have water available at a water bottle filling station,” Lapotka said.
Over the course of the day, Lapotka said about 4,000 people are expected to attend. In addition to helping to organize the MADE Fair, she also sells clothing there through her company, REcreate Designs.
“Everything is one of a kind, and I make adult and children’s clothing from up-cycled shirts,” Lapotka said.
More information about the Summer MADE Fair, including a list of artists who will be at the event, is available at missoulamadefair.com.