Paradise City Arts Festival returns this weekend with a new special exhibit.

The phrase "red hot" is often used to describe jazz or lava or even mamas -- but art?


If you visit Paradise City Arts Festival this weekend in Marlborough, you'll find a special exhibit titled "redHOT!" which has stimulated participants to interpret and be inspired by the color red.


Paradise City, a juried fine art and contemporary craft show, was established in 1995 and is now produced biannually in Marlborough and Northampton, and annually in Philadelphia.


All of the artists involved in Paradise City are invited to participate in the special exhibit -- which has been part of the arts festival for the last two years -- and a different theme is chosen for each show.


"The special exhibits challenge our artists to think outside the box," said Linda Post, founding director of Paradise City. "We encourage our artists to expand their boundaries, work outside their medium.


"For some artists, red is a really important color, like in ceramics. It's a really hard thing to achieve. For a painter, I've always felt that red connotes passion. One of our artists, from the Seattle area, is submitting a piece called 'Passion' and it's very red."


Paradise City has become a much anticipated event for lovers of fine craft and art, and the three-day show this weekend will feature 171 artists from across the U.S., Canada, the Far East and eastern Europe. Artwork that will be featured includes glass, ceramics, painting, textiles and wearable art, jewelry, photography and much more.


Post said the special exhibit will be in the Sculpture Cafe, a separate area at the exhibition hall where music and food already encourage people to gather.


The special exhibit "always inspire visitors and, often, the other artists," said Post. "The artists, even the ones that aren't a part of it, come see it. It's a conversation starter.


"I get lots of artists saying, 'I really wish I'd made something for the show."'


Although Post is not sure of all the pieces yet, she expects there will be about 35 pieces of art in "redHOT!" from 30 or 35 artists. "I don't know what it's going to look like," she said. "A lot of things are going to be a surprise to me, too."


The display encourages festival visitors to check out the booths of the participating artists, Post said, to see what other kinds of work they do. And some times, what is in a special exhibit is very different work from what the artists usually do.


"If there's a jeweler that does a piece of sculpture, we'll try to have a special place to show that" in "redHOT!" she said.


Post said she sees Paradise City as not just a medium for artists to present their work but also as a way for them to realize their dreams and potential as artists.


"Having the opportunity for special exhibits, allows them to work on a different scale...to explore more creative outlets," she said. "It gives them a little bit of room to grow, plus, we get a great response from the public."


THE ESSENTIALS:


Paradise City Arts Festival is this weekend at the Royal Plaza Trade Center, 181 Boston Post Road, Rte. 20 west, Marlborough.


Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22.


Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for students and $15 for a weekend pass. Children under 12 are free.


For more information, visit www.paradisecityarts.com.