by Tim Lee
Great Falls Montana has always been known as the Western Art Capital of the World for its Western Art Week. But that is merely the tip of the iceberg for Great Falls when it comes to its art culture. An afternoon stroll through Downtown Great Falls quickly proves that point as murals can be seen on every street corner covering entire sides of downtown’s historic buildings.
ArtsFest Montana would be the cause of those murals, which started back in 2018. Lifestyles magazine has covered Artsfest in Volume 18, Issue 6 and Volume
14, Issue 10. You can find these on our website at treasurestatelifestyles.com where the articles go into the rich origin of this incredible event.
One of the newer murals that has received worldwide attention (placing 25th out of 100 of the top murals in the world) is called “The Eyes” done by “COBREART,” an artist out of Argentina. As you drive by his mural on 9th Street South and 1st Avenue North, the eyes follow you and command your attention and if you stop and look closely, you may find a few hidden secrets that you would not have seen at first glance.
These murals serve more than artistic beauty, assisting in helping reduce crime rates by beautifying places that are easily left in disrepair. Beyond that, they have been found in a national study to increase business to the businesses they are installed on by 5-10%!
Being done during one week in August, artists from all over the world come to add their touch to their assigned walls. There is a training day where artists of all ages get to learn the techniques of painting on a large scale. The direct effect that is left on the young adults and artists in the community can be felt for weeks after, as social media fills up with attention of murals that families worked on together during the training day.
The sky is the limit on what sort of art is created, allowing for Great Falls to go far beyond its Western art style. Art covers the walls that honor the art and ancestry of Native Americans, it highlights native Montana animals, and it puts messages of joy and reflection into the world that could make someone in need realize they can go another day.
Art isn’t a fad, it is a necessity, and Great Falls is using it for a beautiful purpose – to make change in a community one wall at a time. ArtsFest Montana returns August 11-18, 2023 and will be the 5th annual event of its kind. Learn more at artsfestmontana.com