Large Paris Gibson painting unveiled in downtown Great Falls

Posted at 5:19 PM, Jun 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 14:33:07-04

The face of Great Falls founder Paris Gibson was painted on the side of the building that houses Church, Harris, Johnson and Williams Law Firm this week.

The large painting is on the south side of the building at 114 3rd Street South.

The portrait was created by artists Jim DeStaffany and Andrew Fowler of Conrad, who have also painted two other murals in downtown Great Falls: a portrait of Charlie Russell on the 1st Avenue North parking garage, and a painting of Alma Jacobs on the Great Falls Public Library on 2nd Avenue North.

Gibson’s portrait was created using 35 cans of spray paint from Spain and a large crane in less than 24 hours.

The law firm also had the artists paint the “CHJW logo” above the owl cigar sign next to the portrait.

The Paris Gibson Month Celebration Committee funded Gibson’s portrait.

Here is the press release from the City of Great Falls:

Images and landmarks of Paris Gibson, founder of Great Falls, are found throughout Great Falls. To name several: his statue in Gibson Park; his gravestone near the entrance of Highland Cemetery; Paris Gibson Square, and Paris Gibson Education Center.

Now a new image has brought more fame to the City’s Founder, an enormous black and white portrait on the south side of an historic building, the Baum-Trinastich Building at 114 3rd Street South, built in 1914, now the home of Church, Harris, Johnson & Williams, P.C. Law Firm. The firm is older than the building with its roots going back to 1911 when Jerry Church arrived in Great Falls on the Great Northern Railroad. Church also had the distinction of being Charles M. Russell’s attorney.

Created by Jim DeStaffany and Andrew Fowler, both Conrad, Montana natives, this is the third mural they have done in Great Falls. The first was of Cowboy Artist Charles M. Russell on the east side of the First Avenue North parking garage and the second was of Alma Jacobs, librarian, on the south side of the Great Falls Public Library.

After establishing their own technique of spray painting, they began doing large scale paintings on buildings in Conrad. When Ed’s Tavern commissioned them to paint the Budweiser Clydesdales on their building, interest for their work started coming from other communities. The duo uses a specially formulated spray paint from Spain, which allows them to complete large jobs in a short amount of time due to its speed of application, fast dry time and excellent coverage. They completed the Paris Gibson portrait using 35 cans of the spray paint, and using a large crane – in less than 24 hours.

The portrait was funded by the Paris Gibson Month Celebration Committee in cooperation with the People’s Park and Recreation Foundation.

The Paris Gibson mural compliments the Owl Cigar sign which has been on the wall for many years. One of the early occupants of the building was a cigar and tobacco shop, hence the Owl Cigar sign on the side of the building. During the project, the law firm had the two artists put the CHJW logo above the Owl Cigar sign.

“We are pleased to add this piece of history to our historic building”, said Ron Nelson, one of the law firm’s partners, “and we’re grateful to the Paris Gibson Month Celebration Committee for spearheading this effort.”

Reporting by Keeley Van Middendorp for MTN News