Summer Between the Frames 

Previewing Utah summer art fests

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click to enlarge Park City Kimball Arts Festival - ERIK DAENITZ

Amid other forms of celebrating the outdoors during summer, artwork gets its due with a plethora of arts festivals and fairs all over the state. Sure, everybody knows the two big ones—the Utah Arts Festival and the Park City Kimball Arts Festival—but there are a number of others giving artists in all media and genres their time under the sun. Although these lesser-known festivals may include attractions like food and music, art is the main attraction.

Springville is known as Utah’s “Art City,” with the first museum built in the state, known for its collection of Utah artists as well as Russian and Soviet socialist realism. The town is a cornerstone of the history of Utah art, and its Springville Art City Days (June 6-11) is a fitting way to kick off the summer art festival season.

Farther north, the Ogden Arts Festival (June 10-11) takes over the town’s historic district, on 25th Street and Union Station. The festival features more than 80 artist booths, as well as live music and performances, kids’ activities and a beer garden.

The Utah Arts Festival (June 23-26) in downtown Salt Lake City celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. Kick-started by a bicentennial federal grant, the festival began with 55 visual artists in 1977, and by now that number has almost tripled. After moving around between several locations, the festival has found a permanent home at Library Square downtown. With artists from all over the country in the hip outdoor urban setting, it’s a can’t-miss weekend for art lovers during the summer.

The production of art festivals has become a big business, and companies like Howard Alan Events, a Florida-based firm, stage art events all over the country, including the Salt Lake City Art Fair at The Gateway (July 16-17). The fair boasts a full spectrum of artistic media, as well as the opportunity for festivalgoers to order custom pieces from artists. The difference between a festival and a fair is that the former is usually held outdoors, spread out over sometimes several blocks, and a fair is usually confined to one locale, like a shopping mall or hotel.

As if to upstage the Park City Kimball Arts Festival, happening the following weekend, the Redstone Art Fair (July 30-31)—also produced by Howard Alan Events—takes place for the second year in Redstone Village, a retail district in Park City. With 150 artists, it’s significantly smaller than the Park City arts fest but still mounts an impressive collection.

The 42nd annual Park City Kimball Arts Festival (Aug. 4-7) has sorted through 860 applicants this year nationwide as well as from Canada to cull their crop of exhibitors, including a number of locals and newcomers to the fest. An independent selection jury, picked fresh each year, makes for an ever-changing event.

Helper, a central-Utah mining town, in recent years has started to turn into an artists’ colony, as many painters have relocated there for its low cost of living and picturesque scenery. The Helper Art Festival (Aug. 18-21), now in its 17th year, includes a Plein Air (French for “open air”) painting competition as artists try their hand at capturing natural settings with the brush.

A number of street fairs have sprung up in the past few years, as residents of Salt Lake City and environs celebrate their communities. The Avenues Street Fair (Sept. 10) is the most well-known and gives neighborhood artists a chance to shine.

Utah’s diverse ethnic communities are represented by a number of festivals during the summer, and one of the most educational as well as vibrant is the India Fest, held at the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Sept. 10. Devotees of the Krishna faith conduct a gala pageant of the epic Ramayana, as well as activities keyed around their Indian cultural exhibits and artwork.

See City Weekly's Summer Guide for Utah festival listings.

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