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Sound the alarms, Paris Gibson Square setting art ablaze on Friday (in a way)

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Light up your weekend with some scorching-hot visual art, blues music sure to set your feet on fire, figuratively, and loads of food and drinks to help keep you warm should the temperature fall after the sun sets.

The Paris Gibson Square’s third annual Arts on Fire is Friday and Saturday, with the 49th Street Blues Project performing Friday night starting at 6 until 10 p.m. outside the museum. The only wood kiln available within 150 miles will be burning all night long, as well.

New this year, Bowser Brewery will offer five beers on tap along with Eagle Beverage, who also will have five brews available for adults 21 and older. Blacksmith Paul Blystone of Sun Prairie will demonstrate how to mold metal into useful and decorative objects on Friday night and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well.

Pizza Baron will provide food for the Friday event.

Arts on fire 1Jeff Kuratnick, curator of education at the Square and chief organizer of Arts on Fire, said the goal of the event is to welcome people to experience what takes place at the museum and to shine a spotlight on the community element of Great Falls’ only contemporary art museum.

“When I came to town, when I still had hair, I went two blocks away to get a haircut and the lady there said, ‘Well what do you guys do there at the Square?'” Kuratnick said. “So, after that I said, ‘OK, now I know that what we does needs to come outside of these walls at least for one or two days to show the public that this is everything we do in the building.'”

Because I knew if someone just two blocks away didn’t know, we had to do a better job at getting people on the property and offering something for everyone and educating the public about what we do for them.”

What started as Clay Day before Kuratnick took over was transformed into Arts on Fire and since 2012 has been focused on helping show people how to create different types of art that might not be readily available elsewhere. Saturday is billed as “family day” and features more art activities while Friday is intended to be more of an outdoor party type feel, much along the lines of Alive@5.

“Arts on Fire is here to bring people in that might not necessarily have art at the top of their minds, or they might be intimidated. So, I knocked that all down and I try to line people up with different techniques and areas of expertise that people might not see every day. So, for instance this year we’re offering fiber arts and basket weaving because they’re things most people might never have seen before. Now, you come to the festival on Saturday and learn more about it. If you’ve ever wondered, ‘Well how do you weave baskets, or how do you work with wood or how do you work with clay? You can see all the different ways to do it that people don’t see every day.”

Kuratnick also is inviting children to come paint the giant, 400-pound ceramic head that he and a few of the Square’s interns created recently. He said after it’s been painted it will be placed on the Square property as a lasting memento for people who attended the festival.

“It’ll be something lasting for people and they’ll hopefully always remember it when they see it,” he said.

Jeff Kuratnick with the Paris Gibson Square travels up the Square's elevator with the massive head he and several staffers at the Square created.
Jeff Kuratnick with the Paris Gibson Square travels up the Square’s elevator with the massive head he and several staffers at the Square created.

Saturday’s free event also includes art sales and demos of a variety forms of mediums, a root beer float fundraiser for the Square,  and a custom-made backyard fire pit by artist Bruce Vasser and quarter organic, grass-fed beef will be up for bid, also.

The event also is a fundraiser for Paris Gibson Square to raise money for it’s educational programs.

Admission to Friday’s adults-only shindig is $5 per person. Saturday’s family events are free, with fundraisers throughout the day.

For more information check out the Paris Gibson Square Facebook page.

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