Great Falls Artists Gear Up for Big Weekend Event


(Monday, October 15, 2007 10:50 AM EDT)

Curious to see artists at work in their personal creative spaces? Enjoy visiting unique homes and properties? The fourth annual Great Falls Art Studio Tour on Oct. 19-21 might be right up your alley.

The free, self-guided studio tour will feature 25 home studios with artwork and displays of 38 artists who live or work in Great Falls and are members of the Great Falls Studios organization.

Founded in 2003, in an effort to establish a network of artists in the community of Great Falls, Great Falls Studios tries to help its members exhibit their work, and the studio tour has been essential in reaching that goal.

“My first motive was to have a studio tour,” said Great Falls Studios president and founder Laura Nichols. “My second motive was I was curious to see if there were some like-minded people [in Great Falls].”

She said she was happy to find that Great Falls is home to many energetic artists. Currently, there are 75 members of Great Falls Studios, including painters, sculptors, jewelers, quilters and photographers, among others.

Many feel that they benefit significantly by being part of the art community.

“I love being around other artists,” said portrait painter Adrienne Kralick, who works in the Artists' Atelier, a studio space for 11 painters and owned by Great Falls Studios. “It's so much fun painting around other artists.”

“Artists like to be with artists,” said Jennifer Duncan, another painter in the Artists' Atelier. “It's inspiring to be around each other.”

The studios on the tour are in clusters all across Great Falls, but the Artists' Atelier, located in the Village Centre, might be the best place to start, because informational booklets with keyed maps will be available.

(Booklets and maps also will be available at Re/Max Gateway in Colvin Run and at The Old Brogue Irish Pub.)

The studios on the tour vary greatly in style, ranging from historic houses and old barns to converted sheds and contemporary homes.

Some highlights along the way include:

* Heidi Mraz's home studio - Mraz is a digital artist, photographer and painter, and her basement houses both a traditional art suite and a digital studio.

Although Mraz enjoys using pastels, watercolors, oils and acrylics, she said she really likes using computers because they are able to replicate any media. She is able to produce original giclées by painting with a digital tablet and stylus.

As a “bigger, better, faster person,” Mraz likes the efficiency that comes with working in a digital medium.

“I love technology and art, and I love to combine them with these tools, so I can create more, which I love,” she said.”

She will be at the computer during the tour, demonstrating how to paint digitally.

* Pig Pen Pottery - Potter Laura Nichols, who lives in an 18th-century home, uses her converted outbuilding, a 1939 cinder-block replica of a Jamestown house, as her pottery studio.

With multiple wheels, a glazing room and three kilns, visitors will be able to see all the steps in the pottery process.

On Oct. 19, Nichols will demonstrate Raku (Japanese-style pottery) firing, and on Oct. 20-21, she will move her wheels outside for visitors to try their hand at pottery.

* JewelworX - Donna Barnako's jewelry studio is located atop her contemporary home's garage. It is filled with myriad beads, from Tibetan to semi-precious stone to vintage, which she uses in her work.

Barnako describes her pieces as eclectic and unique. She likes incorporating fibers and using many different techniques such as wire crochet, bead crochet and Japanese braiding.

“I like to say I'm painting with beads,” she said.

During the tour, she will demonstrate how to make her “cache pot” earrings and macramé bracelets.

For more information and for studio schedules (not all studios will be open all three days), see the Web site at

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