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Local Artists and Musicians Featured at Student Program Fundraiser

May 23, 2018

The theme of the third annual Southwest Montana Wine and Craft Beer Festival was the 125th Birthday Bash, highlighting 125 years of Montana Western’s continued innovation and success. The University of Montana Western’s Foundation and Alumni Office in partnership with Summit Beverage held the festival on May 19, 2018 on the Montana Western campus.

Montana Western’s 125th birthday was celebrated with a special fireworks show after the conclusion of the festival.

Guests enjoyed art and music by several local artists, including oil-painter Charlotte Quist, potter Cody Mitchell, multimedia artist Cory Birkenbuel, artist and craftsman James Wigen, and watercolorist Jessica Glenn.

Festival Artwork
Guests enjoyed artwork by several local artists, including oil-painter Charlotte Quist.

University of Montana Western graduates Cory Birkenbuel and James Wigen displayed their unique multimedia artwork for guests of the event that raises funds for Montana Western student programs and projects.

Proceeds benefit the students of Montana Western by raising funds that are utilized to support various programs and projects on campus and aren’t limited to a specific department. These “unrestricted funds” can be used to purchase research equipment, support art and literary series and events, support student projects, and much more.

Cory Birkenbuel
Montana Western alumnus and artist, Cory Birkenbuel.

Birkenbuel’s unique approach includes incorporating found objects with paint, glass and metal. He also incorporates Western film icons into his take on “Montana Pop Art.”

According to Birkenbuel, “Art is the purest form of expression and passion in my life. My art is the bond between my physical and psychological wellbeing. Producing art makes me a better person, by challenging my body and mind and building personal attributes that help translate my ideas into a piece of artwork.”

James Wigen
Montana Western alumnus and artisan, James Wigen.

While James Wigen was attending Montana Western, his primary focus was working with glass, ceramics, and bronze casting, though he also enjoys working with many types of material and exploring innovative techniques.

“I was born and raised in rural Southwestern Montana,” said Wigen. “All of my experiences growing up have been directly linked to agriculture, tree harvesting, and construction. This kind of physical labor and work ethic is directly tied to my attachment to the materials in which I work,” he said.

Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by Montana Western professor and classical guitarist Brent Poe McCabe, and UMW staff member Bill Dwyer.

Brent Poe McCabe
Montana Western professor and classical guitarist, Brent Poe McCabe.

A critically acclaimed classical guitarist, Brent Poe McCabe has performed in notable venues worldwide and has been a prizewinner in national and international music competitions. McCabe has also recorded three albums. The latest, entitled “Evocacion,” features popular music from Latin America and has been acknowledged for both technical and expressive qualities by “Lively Times” and “Classical Music Sentinel.”

Bill Dwyer
Montana Western staff member and musician, Bill Dwyer.

Before joining the staff at Montana Western, Bill Dwyer was a professional musician. He plied his trade in Los Angeles, where he was involved in the Americana music movement. He played with artists including Dwight Yokam and Lucinda Williams. He then set his sights on Austin, Texas, where he performed through the early 1990’s. While in Austin, he toured Europe, Canada, Brazil, and Mexico with various artists. He also performed on “Austin City Limits,” the legendary PBS music show. After joining the Mavericks, Dwyer moved to Nashville and toured with Pam Tillis and Chris LeDoux. He has also performed on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

The festivities of the evening culminated with a 125th Birthday Bash fireworks show held following the festival, with assistance from the Dillon Jaycees.

“We cannot adequately express our gratitude to this community for the years of support they have provided our university. We are grateful to those who helped establish and maintain this campus for 125 years. I can only imagine what the next 125 years of innovation and transformation will look like at the University of Montana Western,” said Foundation Director Roxanne Engellant. “We’d also like to thank all of our local artists and musicians who made this such a special event.”