Paint the Growler art show shares incredible stories

Bozeman is a town that knows its way around a beer. Eight breweries and a lot of bars provide places for the eager drinker to wet their lips, and the town is somewhat notorious for kicking back on Friday nights. But as prevalent as beer and alcohol are, they rarely get a chance to show their artistic potential. Enter Revolvr Menswear and PintPass. Together with the Challenged Athletes Foundation, they recently held a unique event — an art show made entirely of beer bottles.

The show, held Friday, Nov. 20, was dubbed “Paint the Growler.” Each of the bottles was up for auction, and the bids were flowing in fast. Proceeds went both to the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the upcoming documentary “Charged.” The foundation helps traumatized patients recover from accidents, regain abilities and discover new potential. In their words, their mission is “to provide opportunities and support to people with physical challenges so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics.” One local member of CAF is named Eduardo Garcia, and “Paint the Growler” was only part of his incredible story.

Garcia is the subject of “Charged,” a documentary chronicling his story. In 2011, Garcia was a successful chef — as he described it, “very confident about where I was in life.” Then, on a trip into Montana’s backcountry, he came across a dead bear. Curious, he touched it with his knife; and up through the knife’s blade came 2400 volts of electricity. “There was no way to know that bear was on a live power source,” he said. A freak accident, and Garcia’s life was forever changed. His long-time partner Jen had gone back to England a few months prior. She immediately flew back to Salt Lake and spent 49 days in intensive care with Garcia. Muscles had to be cut away, and to save his life, doctors amputated his left hand. Then, while undergoing surgeries to recover from his injuries, he was told he had stage 2 testicular cancer. He was flown back to Montana to undergo chemotherapy. But through it all, he was sustained by a burning desire to live. “The second my eyes opened on that forest floor and I had a heartbeat … I’m gonna get myself back to that — back to life.”

The growlers in Revolvr were for his benefit, and the community had turned out spectacular work. Local artists and companies had come together to create truly unique pieces of salvage art. The growlers’ round shape forced viewers to look at the entirety of the work; to see everything, they had to take the time to walk around the entire shape, examine every side, and see the whole thing before judging it. It led to a unique artistic experience — a work that immersed the viewer completely, if only for the time it took to circle it.

Bozeman resident Callum Gannon was most impressed by the artists’ visions. “It’s good to see art in a different medium,” he said. “It’s incredible to see what these artists can create from something that’s already made.”

Legendary painter Edgar Degas once said, “Art is not about what you see, it’s about what you make others see.” That idea captures the essence of “Paint the Growler.” As guests weaved through the crowded store, they were struck not by the impressiveness of the works (though they were incredible) but by the people who were there. Every one of them was there for a cause. In the forefront of everyone’s minds was the story of Eduardo Garcia — a story of resilience, determination and triumph. And that was truly something worth seeing.