In the fall of 2005 Jean Price had this great idea for a pop up exhibit in the defunct windows of the parking garage on 1st Avenue South. From that exhibit the Urban Art Project was born.
History of the Urban Art Project
The Downtown Great Falls Parking Garage on the corner of First Avenue South and Fourth Street has eleven display windows surrounding the outside walls. They were designed for merchandise marketing, advertising, and organizational promotion, but were rarely filled and begged to be utilized more effectively. During the summer of 2005, artist Jean Price proposed an exhibit of eleven site specific art installations for the Autumn of the year. She would find interested artists and supervise the project.
Opening on November 5, 2005 with a reception at Bert and Ernie’s, a restaurant and bar that was across the street from the exhibition, a new vision for the windows in the City of Great Falls Parking Garage was issued in. The first eleven artists were Jack Fisher, Jr., Julia M. Becker, Vickie Meguire, Terry Thall, Rachel Kaiser, MSU-COT Design Students, Grayce Holzheimer, GFHS Sculpture Students, Jean Price, Lisa Easton, and Ruth Franklin. They all produced site specific art for the eleven windows in the garage. They donated their time and efforts & were rewarded with praises from the community. Encouraged by the success of this first exhibit Jean made a proposal to the Business Improvement District to make the spaces at 315 1st Avenue South a regular space for art and the Urban Art Project was born.
The Business Improvement District provided start up money for the first year and renewed their support with another donation every spring thereafter. The Downtown Great Falls Association (DGFA) acted as the UAP umbrella organization until April 1, 2007 when Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art (PGSMOA) became their fiscal agent through a Memorandum of Understanding. In 2007 the DGFA and the City Manager’s office both pledged dollars and in 2010, the City Parking Program took over the sponsorship of the City Manager's space. Rates for sponsorship vary from $325 for one exhibition to $650 for three. Jean Price Memorial Fund and Bronze Level sponsorship can be at any level. Every little bit helps.
Jean Price was the founder and acting Director of the UAP from the initial Autumn exhibition in 2005 until the Winter exhibit of 2019, when Jean succumbed to cancer. Prior her passing she chose Cortni Harant, art teacher at Great Falls High, to take over as director. Cortni is both humbled and honored to walk in the shoes of such a great woman. What she did for the community of Great Falls and the larger state of Montana cannot be overstated.
The autumn 2019 exhibition honored Jean's vision by welcoming back as many of the original artists from the initial show in 2005. The UAP is currently booking artists for the 2023 exhibition seasons. If you are interested in learning more about how you can become a UAP artist, contact Cortni Harant either by email or phone, 406-260-6532. Window specs and a sample contract are available below.
The display spaces are approximately 6’ x 8’ x 17” deep and contain new internal LED lighting which illuminates at night.
TENTATIVE URBAN ART PROJECT EXHIBIT SCHEDULES
Although uneven temperatures and a lack of UV protection create the biggest challenges, the artists enjoy solving the problems and exploring some unique materials as they create their installations.