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Art + Illusions show at Gibson Square features music, models wearing art

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art and illusion 1Making art, at it’s core, is about using your medium of choice to dig out emotions in which to express yourself.

Creative artists also tend to find ways to try things that either don’t often get done, or have never been tried before.

On Saturday, Electric City Creative presents the “Art + Illusion Runway Show” at the Paris Gibson Square, a show that pushes the boundaries for what a runway show, a fundraiser, and an art soiree is all about.

Doors open at 6 p.m., with the show kicking off at 7. appetizers and a bar, courtesy of Machinery Row, available for guests. At 7 p.m., Jolene Bach will provide music for guests, and the runway show gets underway at 7:30 p.m. The host, Kola Stomey, will serve as guide throughout the event, and DJ Rough Love, aka Tyler Valley, also will provide music.

Admission is $10 per person. Advanced tickets can be purchased by going to the Paris Gibson Square or calling 727-8255.

The heart of the event is the runway show, with 10 male models and drag performers showing off wearable pieces of art from such artists as Jen Downs, Gigi Dundas, Becca Howard, Mick O’Day, Vicki Turnbull and Whitney Wilkinson.

Each artist was challenged to create a back piece for a drag performer and a head piece for a male model. The artist vary from jewelry workers, to welders, to steam punk enthusiasts.

In an exclusive interview with Big Sky State Buzz, drag model Lexi Tucker-Dixon talks about her role in the event, how she sees it helping the LGBTQ community’s positive exposure, and some other fun tidbits along the way.

Lexi Tucker-DIxon and Kola Stomey pose for a recent photo shoot. Both drag performers will be modeling art on Saturday at Paris Gibson Square. Photo courtesy of Tyson Habein.
Lexi Tucker-DIxon and Kola Stomey pose for a recent photo shoot. Both drag performers will be modeling art on Saturday at Paris Gibson Square. Photo courtesy of Tyson Habein.

Tucker-Dixon said right off the bat one of the first things people will notice is that the modeling of the art, typically done by female models in a lot of shows, is almost entirely “female” in the traditional definition, free. She said this was done on purpose.

“Part of the fundraising effort is for Planned Parenthood and (we) thought, you know, women work their asses off, most are mothers and hold down full-time jobs, which is essentially two full-time jobs, so (we) wanted to give them a night off to just enjoy themselves,” she said. “So, with the exception of the lovely, talented Jolene Bach, who is performing music, the cast is all drag performers and male models.”

In that respect, Tucker-Dixon added that by saying there are no cisgendered female models, this collection of models runs the full gamut of gender identities and orientations.

“We really are breaking down stereotypes,” she said. “We have models that are trans, straight, gay, cis, you name it.”
Another unique aspect to this show is how while it is an event under the Open Definitions LGBTQ + Allies banner, the show’s core is about raising money and showcasing art.

She said part of that is a way to start showing people that while someone might identify themselves as a member of the LGBTQ community, that’s not his/her only identifying trait.

“I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, I have always felt that my sexuality doesn’t define me anymore than the color of my hair,” she said. “Really, I feel like events like this can be an eye-opener and help show everyone that ‘Hey – I am more like you than you think,’ or ‘hey – I am unique and here is why. We all thrive on love, creativity and acceptance. Except Kola – I think she just thrives on IPA’s and boxed wine.”

Another unique aspect is the fact that this is the first show like this held at the Square, a place Tucker-Dixon said she is excited to be on Saturday.

“I just think when you pull up to that building, you really feel like you are going to something BIG,” she said. “I really am honored to be working with the Square. I know this is not a typical event for them so I am hoping that this experience will be just as rewarding for them as it is all those involved.”

Inside Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art.
Inside Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art.

At the same time, Tucker-Dixon said having it at an art museum also changes the mood of the show because it’s being done in a place that fosters creativity on a daily basis.

“…There is a certain type of humor and aesthetic you can play off with a bar crowd that would not be acceptable for this type of venue, so there is that and then yes, knowing you are surrounded by other multifaceted, talented people really gives you that sense of awe and knowing that you have to bring your A-Game. But honestly, I feel honored anytime Electric City Creative and Open Definition lets me be a part of an event.”

She added that for Stomey, her friend and fellow drag performer, it also means adjusting her wardrobe in a new way.

“Kola mentioned she was nervous to have to worry about actually matching her makeup and outfit this time as opposed to just color-contrasting beer stains,” she said.

More seriously, Tucker-Dixon said she feels like that sense of “doing something new” or “stepping outside of your comfort zone,” will become the theme for the night with not only the performers and organizers, but the attendees, as well.

“I’m also hoping that this venue will encourage some people to come out and see the show who otherwise might not have,” she said. “At the end of the show I want to know that the people who came had a great time, they enjoyed something they might not thought they otherwise would have, and that their wallet or purse is empty because they made donations or bought silent auction items to benefit great charities.”

In addition to Planned Parenthood, this event will raise money for Paris Gibson Square and Open Definition: Great Falls LGBTQ + Allies.

Tucker-Dixon said that because it’s a fundraiser, she’s more willing to take the risk of looking foolish, as long as it means it helps these organizations in some way.

“I don’t want to roll an ankle, but if it helps raise money I might consider it,” she said.

Finally, Tucker-Dixon said they’ve worked hard on letting people know that this is an event that’s open to anyone, no matter if you’re straight, gay, single, married, male, female, whatever.

“Just relax and come have fun I say!” she said. “If the drag models can wear heels, 20 pounds of makeup and walk a catwalk in some very uncomfortable shoes, I think that says come one, come all!”

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page here.

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