Worth the trip: Arts Fest | ParkRecord.com

Worth the trip: Arts Fest

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

Robert Erickson, who crafts environmentally-minded tables and chairs from fallen trees using solar-powered tools, has been to a number of festivals in his 38-year career, but never to Park City’s Kimball Arts Festival. This year will be his first.

Early next week, Erickson will drive from his home in Nevada City, Calif., to Santa Fe, N.M. (about a 17-hour journey) to load pieces of his work into a truck, then he will head north to set up his booth in Park City (another 11 hours on the road).

Even then, it’s not easy to show furniture outside and on Main Streets incline. Erickson will build a platform and lay down carpeting. All this for a festival that takes place Aug. 4 and 5 only.

It’s a lot of work, but Hester has heard from other artists that it’s worth the effort.

"I heard the Kimball Arts Festival is a good show… It has a good reputation," he says. "I wouldn’t consider doing it if it wasn’t. "

Each year, The Kimball Arts Festival appears to grow in size and esteem. This year, a jury chose Erickson out of 800 applicants for one of 220 booths and the center is expecting more than 40,000 attendees.

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Bruce Larrabee, a ceramics artist and former president of the Park City Professional Artists Association, says the festival’s success has to do with word-of-mouth on the art festival circuit.

"Artists do talk and I would say the volume of the applications that the Kimball gets and the quality of the artists that they attract has a lot to do with that," he says.

Larrabee, part-owner of Artworks gallery on Main Street, makes a living during the summer at outdoor festivals. This will be his 17th year at the Kimball Arts Festival and he considers it among the best.

"When you’re an artist, you gauge an art festival on your sales how much money you can make on a show," he explained. "Right in my backyard, I found a festival that’s treated me very well."

Larrabee appreciates the number of out-of-state artists chosen (this year there will be artists from 24 states and three from Canada), but also the number of local artists included by the Kimball. Next week, nearly 50 booths will belong to Utah artists.

Larrabee says the same quality of work appears at the gala, the Thursday night event that will kick off the festival with 40 pieces of art from 30 artists. Along with the festival, the auction serves as the Kimball Art Center’s primary source of funding for education and gallery shows throughout the year.

Sharon Maney, a contemporary steel metal sculptor who serves on the board of directors for an art museum in Monterey, Calif., served as a juror at last year’s festival.

Maney says that since attending the festival, she has changed her summer vacation plans to be in Park City for the Kimball’s event. An art collector, she purchased three paintings from the center’s recent show and plans to attend the gala and auction to consider buying more work.

"Before I went to the Kimball Arts Festival last year, I discounted festivals," she confessed. "But as I worked at the Kimball Arts Festival last year, I saw how serious this festival is about getting the best work…and I think it’s great exposure for the artists, since Park City has become such an international place."

Also making a lengthy trek to the event this year are Jim and Jane Ayers, the winners of the festival’s 2006 car raffle. He and his wife will return to help volunteer selling $75 tickets to the raffle next weekend tickets that double as a year-long memberships to the Kimball Arts Center.

Last year, after their first festival, the couple drove a new Mercedes E350 home to Columbus, Ohio and have enjoyed spreading the word about the festival and their new car.

Ayers says that while he’s regularly played the state lottery since 1976, he never won anything until he won the Mercedes.

"You can imagine, I have Utah license plates on it and it’s a great story back here," Jim Ayers said in a phone interview with The Park Record.

"People cannot believe that I won a car and it’s been fun to tell them about it."

He says after learning about his luck, some friends from Ohio might join him in Park City next week.

"I have people at home that have said to me, ‘why don’t you sign us up when you go out there?’" says Ayers. "But I’ve said, ‘no, you have to sign up.’ You have to come to the festival."

New to the contest this year is a second prize in addition to a car a two-night getaway stay at the Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab.

Ayers likes the odds of the contest two prizes and 700 entries and plans to enter again, hoping lightening might strike twice.

He also might also look at some art.

"It’s fabulous It’s just amazing to us that they get the artists there," he said. "We were really impressed."

Art Auction and Gala

Where: The Kimball Arts Center located at 638 Park Ave.

When: Thursday, Aug. 2, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

What: 30 artists with 40 pieces of artwork for live and silent auctions from local landscape oil painters Susan Swartz and David Merrill and bronze sculptors Peter Fillerup, to abstract, watercolor and multi-media work by artists from Wyoming, Montana, Washington and beyond. Hors d’oeuvres by Iverson Catering. Returning this year for a second round, the auction will be hosted by United State Champion and World Champion Auctioneer Bruce Brock.

Tickets: Tickets are $150 each. Limited reservations are available. Call (435) 649-8882 or e-mail frontdesk@kimball-art.org.

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