Park City artist Sharon Sams’ encaustic work, "Coming Full Circle," has been accepted into the Utah Division of Arts & Museums’
Park City artist Sharon Sams' encaustic work, "Coming Full Circle," has been accepted into the Utah Division of Arts & Museums' annual exhibition, "Utah 2013: Mixed Media & Works on Paper." (Photo courtesy of Sharon Sams)
When the Utah Division of Arts & Museums presents its annual exhibition "Utah 2013: Mixed Media & Works on Paper" at the Rio Gallery in Salt Lake City from Oct. 18 to Nov. 22, Park City will be represented by an encaustic work by Sharon Sams.

Sams, who is a member of the Park City Professional Artist Association, is thrilled that her work "Coming Full Circle" was accepted into the show.

"This is the first juried show that I applied to and it's a big deal for me," Sams said during a telephone interview from Yachats, Ore., during an RV trip to the Pacific Coast. "Both jurors were from out of town and they didn't know who we were, so it was great that they chose me, because they had lots of great work to choose from. I feel this is the next step for me."

Sams submitted two works for the show.

"I had this painting that I really loved that had been shown in a couple of shows," she said. "It was untitled and I wanted to come up with a name."

Sams looked at the design, which has a lot of circles, and the words "Coming Full Circle" came to her.

"I love it and thought it was prefect," she said.

The second work didn't get accepted.

"That's OK because 'Coming Full Circle' is my favorite," she said. "It's quite large and it is dreamy and has some mixed media including paper, ink markers and drawings."

Sams' work was one of more than 400 works by 210 artists that were submitted to the jury.

"As an artist, you spend a lot of time alone in your studio creating art and you make art that you love and you hope others will too," she said. "I don't always sell a lot of work at the art shows, so it can be discouraging. So getting in to the show at Rio Gallery was very affirming for me."

Sams had created some artworks when she was younger, but put them aside until one day she felt the need to get back into it.

"I always loved paper and mixed media, so I took a collaging class in San Diego, where we were living at the time," she said. "It was perfect for me."

"I started making my own cards and selling them, and then, later, when I moved to Park City, I started creating mixed media on canvases and sold those as well," Sams said. "I would do local shows here in Park City, like St Mary's Holiday Boutique and The Park Silly Sunday Market. I also opened a site on Etsy."

Things just mushroomed from there and she discovered the encaustic medium, which uses pigment and beeswax.

"I was captivated by the waxy and milky look and never forgot about it, and I saw a beginning encaustic class being offered at the Kimball Art Center by Salt Lake City artist Jeff Juhlin," Sams said. "I took that in early 2010 and I was hooked."

She has since taken three additional workshops by other encaustic teachers, Daniella Wolfe, Lorraine Glessner and Shawna Moore.

The medium appealed to Sams because the possibilities are endless.

"I like working with encaustic because you can combine it with other mediums, like watercolor, tempera, collage and others," she said. "Plus, I like textures and etching, and although the encaustic works I do now are smooth, when I build the layers of wax and color from underneath, it still looks like there is texture in the works.

"I also like working with my hands and you feel like you're really involved in the process," Sams said. "My work now combines the encaustic wax with different papers and images, building many layers for a luminous, dreamy look."

Through working with Encaustics, Sams learned something about herself.

"First, I found that I am an impatient person," she said with a smile in her voice. "I realized that the arts take a lot of patience and discipline. I realized that if I want to get better, I know that I have to be both disciplined and patient to see the results."

Before she was accepted into the Utah Arts & Museums exhibit, Sams' works have been shown at an invitation show in Midway this past summer and were part of the Kimball Art Center's Members Pin Up Show for the past three years.

"I am a member of the International Encaustic Association and I have been a docent at the Kimball for about two years," she said.

Sams said the importance of art, for her, is beauty.

"I've always surrounded myself with beautiful things," she said. "They aren't expensive things, but are very beautiful. So when I make my art, it comes from a place where beauty resides.

"I also have art in my house that I have bought from other people and I look at them every day and they just fill me up," Sams said. "I think, especially in this day and age, we certainly need anything that represents beauty and joy."

Sams is also friends with Pat Sanger, founder of Arts-Kids, an after-school art program that helps children learn confidence and self-esteem.

"I have seen art help these kids," Sams said. "Some may not be good at math or English, but they can sure throw clay and make some wonderful ceramics.

"Art has given these kids and others like them a voice in the world," she said. "It's a form of expression that is important to them."

The Utah Division of Arts & Museums' "Utah 2013: Mixed Media & Works on Paper, will be on display at the Rio Gallery located at the Rio Grand Depot, 300 South Rio Grande,in Salt Lake City, from Oct. 18 through Nov. 22. Admission is free. There will be a free artist reception on Oct. 18 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. For more information, visit artsandmuseums.utah.gov. For more information, about Sharon Sams, visit www.sharonsams.com.