The shows will be at 1000 Fianna Way in the former Golden Living Building from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, July 22 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 23.
Thirty percent of the proceeds from the art sold at this year’s show will be donated to the Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House, the Gregory Kistler Treatment Center, Art’s at Bost and the Good Samaritan Clinic.
Donna Skinner, artist coordinator, and Joan McCoy, event chair, organized a board of Fort Smith natives passionate about giving back to their city to put on events like Mercy Celebrity Classic, golf tournaments and galas.
For 30 years, the Classic Charitable Foundation has come up with new ideas for charity benefits in Fort Smith. Their most recent success has been Art on the Border.
In 2014, the first Art on the Border Show and Sale was at the Blue Lion downtown.
McCoy said the foundation went through many trial and error years with Art on the Border. The volunteers even cut their own cheese and put out pretzels for the first show and sale.
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“Talk about starting from scratch,” she said. “We did, with all the volunteers, all these wonderful people that enjoy working together and have a giving heart, for our charities.”
Over the two-year hiatus, Skinner kept in touch with the artists from their previous shows.
“They did a lot of painting and creating their arts while they were housebound that first year, and then got the bug,” she said. “So they’re all really gung-ho and ready.”
Maggie Malloy, an artist from Fort Smith, joined the foundation to help coordinate previous art shows.
McCoy and Skinner attended other art shows in Arkansas to find their artists for future shows. In 2019, Art on the Border had its biggest show yet with over 60 artists from the southwest region.
This year, 77 artists are coming from Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Skinner said the foundation takes pride in providing top-notch care to their artists who travel to Fort Smith for their shows and sale.
Volunteers assist artists throughout the show, helping them unload their art pieces, set up their display booth and give them a break for meals.
Skinner said 2019 was their “breakthrough year” in which they had 1,200 in attendance and were able to donate $42,000 to Arts at Bost, Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, Gregory Kistler Treatment Center, Hope Campus, Donald W. Reynolds Cancer Support House and the Center for Art and Education in Van Buren.
Skinner and McCoy want new art buyers to know that their artists have pieces available for as low as $5.
“We have amazing I mean, there’s been some amazing ones coming in out of the woodwork,” Skinner said. “There is something for everybody.”
Plenty of high-dollar items are available at the show and sale as well.
“There are the smaller items and the fun things and functional art,” Skinner said. “There’s charcuterie boards and cutting boards. So it’s all of those things and all the art is for sale.”
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Skinner said the artists realize that they could be benefitting from these organizations themselves, or assisting someone else in need.
Due to the pandemic, the beneficiaries are especially in need of extra funding this year.
“That’s always been our focus, this whole group, is giving back to our community that gives back,” she said.
Now, the foundation is equally supportive of its beneficiaries and the regional artists featured at Art on the Border.
“We asked our board members for recommendations of nonprofits that they are aware of,” McCoy said. “It’s not always the big ones that everybody knows about, but some of the smaller ones that do great work and who struggle financially.”
McCoy said that it’s the people she met after her retirement from owning Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Drain Services that kept her in volunteer work.
“They’re doers. They’re givers, and they’re just good people,” she said. “I just continued being this volunteer and eventually I became chairing these different projects.”
McCoy said of her and Skinner’s friendship that the two know how to be organizers and leaders, which has been “a gift God gave both of us.”
Skinner said without McCoy, there would be no Art on the Border.
This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: Art on the Border back in Fort Smith after two-year COVID hiatus