FireTree Sculpture Festival set to brighten Millvale
Sunday, July 14, 2019 | 12:01 AM
The Society of Sculptors will fill Millvale Riverfront Park with a sculptural exhibition, artists’ demonstrations and a nighttime display of illumination at the third annual FireTree Sculpture Festival from noon to 10 p.m. July 20.
The free, family-friendly event will feature artists demonstrating welding, hot metal pouring, mold making, clay modeling, stone carving, glass blowing, wood sculpting and cold metal forging techniques.
Duncan MacDiarmid, Society of Sculptors president, said guests may participate in the following free activities, among others: using a giant Spirograph, developing art with reassembled pottery, working on a mural, courtesy of The Society to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka, carving wood and soapstone and welding. Like last year, attendees of all ages may use tempera paint to leave their marks on MacDiarmid’s personal automobile.
Metal artist Jan Loney, whose studio Metalier is slated to open in Lawrenceville this fall, will demonstrate contemporary metal forging — “a more modern twist on blacksmithing using steel and a gas forge and an anvil.” She will lead visitors in creating hand-stamped metal tags.
“Last year I had someone make a lovely tag that they put on a gift for a wedding that they were attending later that day,” Loney said.
“I enjoy seeing people use their creative talents and trying out new materials and techniques — that’s the best part of this festival, so many opportunities to try out all kinds of activities. And it’s free,” she said.
“In a computer-centric society, it’s nice to be reminded of the joy you get from making things with your hands. It’s challenging but it’s rewarding,” MacDiarmid said.
From noon to 3 p.m., Vecenie Distributing Co. will offer a beer tasting. Afterward, Grist House Craft Brewery will serve brews. Vendors also will sell food.
The following local musicians will perform: Eric Sciulli, Jake Leya, Elkhound, Ethan Sauer, The Goodfoots, Todd Knepp, Six Demon Bag, Josh Corcoran and David Hipchen.
The festival will culminate at night with the FireTree Celebration when MacDiarmid will light his 24-foot-tall metal FireTree sculpture containing fireworks, sparkles and sapwood strung throughout the piece’s trunk and canopy for an approximately 20-minute show that the Millvale Volunteer Fire Department will oversee. Yamoussa Camara, originally of Guinea, West Africa, will lead a percussion ensemble as the sculpture illuminates the sky for the second year.
FireTree consists of a cart made from steel-clad, pressure-treated lumber. MacDiarmid is adding additional pieces and paint to the cart this year. Steel bars extend into a fabricated trunk and pipes create a canopy of almost 300 stainless steel leaves. A sun design sets atop the plant as if it were a star resting atop a Christmas tree.
“This sculpture is meant to celebrate the amazing ability of every individual to boldly face the problems of the day with creativity and resourcefulness, which collectively rolls the world forward each day toward what should be a bright and welcoming planet-future,” he said.
Guests may place notes inside the sculpture before it is set ablaze. Children can cut out silver, reflective stars for placement near the tree. They can use the project’s leftover material to create “superhero cuffs.” Finally, people of all ages can create “sun planet” buttons symbolizing that all humans reside under the same sky, MacDiarmid said.
He envisions the festival as Millvale’s version of Burning Man, an annual Black Rock Desert, Nev., event in “pursuit of a more creative and connected existence in the world.”
“Millvale Riverfront Park is beautiful. It’s totally entertaining because watching people make things and put things together is always fascinating, and you can try something yourself,” he said.