by Shawn Rossiter Though at times it seems the galleries in Utah go into hibernation during the summer months, art is still alive and thriving across the state. You just have to go outside to find it.
Last week, I ran into artists Karl Pace and Martha Klein, busily choosing frames for their pieces at Tanner Frame Shop. They were getting ready for their summer, which is planned around the art festival circuit. Pace would be accompanying Klein to Portland, for the festival; both would be going to Idaho to show; and, locally, Pace would be at the Utah Arts Festival and Klein at Park City. Like many artists, the summer festival circuit is an annual pilgrimage for these two.
Many art patrons are equally enthused by the summer art festivals. The festivals provide a unique opportunity to view a wide range of artistic styles, genres and media, all in a festive setting. From community street fairs to prestigious art festivals, patrons across the state of Utah have the opportunity to browse through pottery, glass, prints, paintings and sculpture, all in an outdoor, bustling and up-close setting unlike the normal gallery experience.
We thought to present a guide to the art festivals happening around the state this summer, but quickly found that the Utah art festival season continues way into the fall and begins in the Springtime. We’ve already missed the Moab and St. George Art Festivals, but you have time in the next five months to catch an art festival from Ogden to Escalante and from Helper to Salt Lake.
19th – 21st HELPER ARTS FESTIVAL Helper is a former mining and railroad town located in the high desert of Utah, just 2 hours southeast of Salt Lake City. Its colorful history, great landscapes and cityscapes make it an ideal place to hold a Plein Air competition. The surrounding landscape consists of high bluffs, desert, farmland, canyons, old railroad and mining architecture. Helper’s small town character comes through clearly in its historic buildings. It has become a Mecca for artists and craftspeople alike. The festival usually occurs in late August. All summer long artists can attend intensive workshops in Helper with artists Paul Davis and David Dornan.
24 – 28th MAYNARD DIXON COUNTRY INVITATIONAL, MT. CARMEL The Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts hosts the annual Maynard Dixon Country Invitational Art Exhibition each summer to showcase the work of the country’s finest contemporary artists. The event takes place at the Mt. Carmel, Utah home built by Maynard Dixon and his wife Edith Hamlin.
Okay, enough fooling around. Time to get back to work, scoot the kiddies off to school and resume your everyday life. But you can still take a break now and then. Salt Lake’s Avenue Street Fair, usually held in late September will be the best place to do it if you still have a hankering for art festivals.
7th & 8th OGDEN ARTS FESTIVAL Ogden’s second annual Ogden Arts Festival at Union Station is a two-day event in the heart of Ogden, home to numerous talented artists and artisans. The arts festival provides them with an opportunity to showcase their talent and put Ogden on the map as a premiere destination for art collectors along the Wasatch Front. If you are interested in a “local” arts festival, Ogden is the place to be. A Plein Air Paint Out competition will be held from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturday.3rd- 9th EVERETT RUESS DAYS, ESCALANTE celebrates the wilderness areas of southern Utah. Named for the poet and artist, Everett Ruess, who disappeared in the canyons around Escalante in 1914. The festival is presented by the art community, caring citizens and local business people, with the help of Ruess aficionados. The annual event has been established as a premier art, literary and musical gathering and features a Plein Air Competition and exhibition.
Art festivals in Utah are a year round event. Look to the future: In February you can begin the year with the Art in Kayenta Festival, a small festival for this growing art community outside of St. George. During Easter you can expect the St. George Art Festival, and in May, the Moab Art Festival.
This article originally appeared in the June 2005 edition of 15 Bytes
The founder of Artists of Utah and editor of its online magazine, 15 Bytes, Shawn Rossiter has undergraduate degrees in English, French and Italian Literature and studied Comparative Literature in graduate school before pursuing a career in art.