Arts fest 2009: Welding industry and art
July 31, 2009
An immense 15-foot waterworks sculpture composed of steel pipes, joints, pumps and levers is one of the centerpieces of the Park City Kimball Arts Festival, which began Friday with a locals preview and continues through Sunday.
Even amid the bustle of more than 200 artist booths and hundreds of visitors, Andrew Smith’s sculpture, as yet untitled, promises to catch the attention of spectators in the Kimball Art Center’s makeshift wonderland, the so-called Family Creativity Center, in front of the building on Heber Avenue.
"It sort of resembles an oil rig," Smith mused Thursday. A water basin rings the base of the sculpture with levers four-feet high that, when pulled, cause streams of water to arc forth. The piece features a high-tech water wheel and a decidedly low-tech garden hose that feeds into the basin.
The piece is interactive, and Smith, who used his own nieces and nephews as tests subjects, invites kids to pull the levers.
In other words, you will get wet.
Smith labored in his Lehi studio for about a month to make the piece. He typically welds pieces from disparate places an army surplus store in Ogden, a sprinkler system in Manti and antique stores to make a finished product.
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Park City residents may remember Smith from his exhibition at the Kimball in 2006. His public art can be seen in Provo, Orem, and Salt Lake City, among other places, and his most recent exhibition was at the Springville Museum of Art.
The arts festival, though, is a first for Smith. Smith doesn’t draw sketches before he starts building. Instead he improvises as he builds, allowing, as he said, form to follow function. "A lot of stuff that inspires me isn’t art, but machinery," he said. A self-taught welder, Smith casts for ideas in the Industrial Revolutions. "I am fascinated by mechanical movement," he said.
The son of a sculptor, Smith was raised in Highland, Utah. He grew up exposed to art, he said, but didn’t set out to become an artist. He didn’t start building his own pieces until he was 21 years old, a student at what was then called Utah Valley State College. Some of his pieces are sophisticated and industrial. Other pieces, like the one at the arts festival, are whimsical.
"For me, art is play," he said. "For some artist, it is metaphorical and poetic. I just never really connected to it in that way."
The same may not be true for spectators at the Arts Festival.