"Art on Fire"
Iron Pour Art Fest
June 22, 2019

It’s time for another hot, Hot, HOT Iron Pour! For the 12th consecutive year, the Valley Arts Alliance Art on Fire Iron Pour Art Fest was held at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry in Wasilla.

The Valley was buzzing with artists from across the country, gathered to cast unique iron sculptures, create Raku pottery, and engage in other similar “fiery” events.

A team of skilled foundry men and women, consisting of Pat Garley, who owns Arctic Fires Bronze in Palmer and Donnie Keen a commercial foundry owner from Houston, Texas, and other local sculptors and skilled metal workers demonstrated the fascinating 5000 year old iron casting process using a custom designed furnace known as a cupola.

In the weeks preceding this event, Pat Garley offered workshops in metal casting and mold making at his studio in Palmer. These workshops continued at the VAA Art on Fire Iron Pour Art Fest, when these molds were poured with liquid iron. See scenes of last year’s event on our Art on Fire archives pages... and for examples of completed iron sculptures that were displayed at the International Gallery of Contemport Art in Anchorage, see our 2012 Art on Fire Sculpture archive page.

Throughout the day, artist Sandra Cook, who owns “SL Cook Pottery and Fiber Werks” in Palmer, conducted her Raku pottery workshop.  Sandra provided each participant with a vessel or pot of unglazed ceramic ware, known as bisque, which the participants decorated with a variety of glazes and then fired in one of Sandra’s special Raku kilns. After a short firing, the “red hot” vessels was placed inside a metal can full of combustible materials, a process that draws the oxygen out of the glaze and is responsible for the unique and completely unpredictable Raku look.

Other artists demonstrated and displayed their fiery art throughout the day including Judy Vars, who demonstrated encaustic wax painting, Erica Case-Phillipsen, who demonstrated lamp work glass, and the Association of Alaskan Blacksmiths, who demonstrated blacksmithing techniques.

Outstanding music was provided by Josh Fryfogle; Long Nights Moon, consisting of Mark and Kelly Williams; Feral Kats, consisting of Julie Hopkins-Feaster, Heather Resz, Kit Jones, Sharon Hein, Rod Rongstad, and Robert Howard; Hillary Saffran; Tim Grady and John Stroup; Mary Wessling, David Jenkins, and Austin Curren.

The 2019 VAA Art on Fire Iron Pour Art Fest was be held at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, located at 3800 W. Museum Drive (near the airport) in Wasilla, from 10am until 5pm on Saturday, June 22. This day was an extraordinary Iron Pour Art Fest in the Valley!

-Photos by Doug Ferguson