Gina Dee (R) who has been teaching local children art and created an art show at The Rocks to auction off their work to benefit Big Sky Community Food Bank drops off a $6,000 check to the food bank’s Operations Manager & Service Navigator Sarah Gaither Bivens. PHOTO BY JANA BOUNDS

Generous kids, generous community

Kid’s art show at The Rocks helps produce a $6,000 check to the food bank

Ideas grow in Big Sky. One person with a dream is all it seems to take for good things to take root. A $6,000 donation to the Big Sky Community Food Bank was made possible thanks to the artistic contributions of creative Big Sky children and some dedicated adults. Educated via a two-hour class taught to small groups by Gina Dee in her studio, 20 children had their artwork placed upon the walls of The Rocks. The Rocks owner Kara Blodgett said people from out-oftown bid on the artwork as well. Facilitated by the Arts Council of Big Sky, the project gained more and more traction.

Now, there is a plan to keep the momentum going with art classes and an art show every three months or so, to benefit the food bank. Dee said she is working to coordinate the display of the artwork with local establishments.

As she explained, the class was not just about art, it was also about life and what the children learned from COVID. They all learned they miss their grandparents.

They also learned that family time minus the numerous distractions of the “real” world can have its benefits. One boy even told Dee he was able to play hooky from school for a bit to go skiing with his dad, who is often incredibly busy.

She had all the children write their artist’s statements after their work was completed.

“One eight-year-old boy wrote ‘I want my artwork to make people smile, happy and to know that I love them,’” she said. “It was very heartwarming, it was amazing.”

The goal was $5,000 for the immediate needs of the food bank. After reaching $4,300 from the sale of the 20 pieces, Dee kicked in the $700 to bring it to the goal amount. Then, to her surprise, Blodgett kicked in an additional $1,000.

Close friends, both Dee and Blodgett credit each other for the overwhelming success of the project.

“It was so much fun! 100% Gina Dee. She is an asset to the community for sure,” Blodgett said.

Dee credited the busyness of the restaurant for the success and also that Blodgett was motivating customers to look at the work.

“She’s the foundation of the success on this one – I tell ya,” she said.

Dee also stated she is continually impressed with Big Sky kids. They took a break on the first night and sat in a circle. She asked what they would rather do on a Saturday morning if given a choice between three things: pick up trash around Big Sky, spend time in the studio, or spend the entire day in pajamas at home. All of the children said they would want to pick up trash half the day and spend time in the studio half the day.

“I had such a good experience! I just want to do this forever,” Dee said.

Dee says there is a positive energy in Big Sky – an accepting and supportive community that allows people the space to be themselves.

Art has always been her stress reliever, her happy place and she believes it is important to share that with children, especially when there is so much to process these days.

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