Folk artist Eric Dowdle will paint Park City (again)
Travel show filmed in town last week
Utahn Eric Dowdle is more than just a world-renowned visual folk artist, whose original art has been turned into prints and puzzles.
He’s the host of his own radio show “Travel with Eric Dowdle” that can be found on SiriusXM’s channel 143.
The artist also is subject of a TV series called “Painting the Town with Eric Dowdle,” which will premiere its second season on BYUtv and other closed networks this fall.
The series, which originally debuted on PBS in 2015, features Dowdle visiting unique places around the world — including St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands, Vancouver, Cancun, New Orleans and North Shore in Hawaii.
Dowdle explores the towns and cities and interviews people. At the end of the episode, he creates a new painting of these places.
Two weeks ago, Dowdle and his crew were in Park City from Aug. 14-18, to film a new episode, which will be included in the second season of “Painting the Town.”
Dowdle said the idea of the TV show has been around since the late 1990s.
“For 20 years, I’ve been traveling the world, meeting people and putting them into my art,” the artist told The Park Record during a lunch break at Harvest. “After a while, I thought, why should I have all the fun by myself. So six years ago, I got the idea to take a crew with me and introduce them to the world as well.
“This way, the people I meet know that I’m not lying when I tell them I want to put them and the places I visit into my art.”
Another goal for the series is to demonstrate how people use some type of art in their careers.
“When we tell the story of a city we visit, we show what the people are really the heart and soul of the place,” Dowdle said. “We show how their jobs are giving back to the community.”
That goes for all careers.
“We’ll focus on the art of plumbing, or we will show the art of hot-air balloon pilots, which we filmed today,” Dowdle said. “We want to get into the craftsmanship, skill and love that these people put into their work, and show that they are doing it especially for the people who visit their towns.”
Throughout the filming, Dowdle begins thinking about the painting.
“I conceptualize it with all of the icons and places that people will recognize and remember,” he said. “My goal is to basically taking the viewer’s vacation and put it onto a canvas. That way if they put together one of the puzzles, or hang a painting, they can remember the places they have visited or have seen on the program.”
To date, Dowdle has painted two Park City works — “Ski Park City,” which is of Park City Mountain Resort, and “Park City” that depicts Main Street.
After this episode, he will have a third Park City painting.
“This one will be kind of hard,” he confessed. “I’m laying it out, and I have found there is so much that has been added here since the last painting.”
“There are so many icons and views that are here, and there are so many things to do here, now.”
Dowdle said he could do another Park City work from a winter standpoint, because many people think of the Olympics and skiing.
“But to tell you the truth, I love Park City for the summer,” he said. “I love that you can experience four seasons up here, and that’s a fun story to tell.”
Dowdle takes his time to gather his thoughts before he puts the brush to the canvas.
“In creating a painting, I want people to look at it and know where it is right away,” he
said. “So the icons like architectural structures are important. But I also need to put things in that are relevant to the story. I also like to grab the past and present and put them in a piece.”
Selecting cities to visit isn’t done randomly.
“We want to tell a complete story about places that people want to visit, but may not be able to get to,” Dowdle said. “We also want to tell the story of places that people have
visited and loved.
“We know places like that and places like Park City are beautiful, and when we visit them, we learn why. We learn about why people are drawn to these different places.”
To start, the artist and his crew will look at big cities and small towns.
“For example, we know there are a lot of people who my never make it to Melbourne, Australia, so we’ll put that on the list,” Dowdle said “We’ll also do some research and see that there are great stories that can be found up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.”
This season, in addition to Park City, Dowdle will visit Prince Edward Island.
“We are planning to go to Cavendish, where the book ‘Anne of Green Gabels’ took place,” he said. “The book is this children’s story that has changed the way people see this little island.”
Art was something Dowdle did as a child, but never thought he was any good.
“That changed when I had a great high school art teacher, Rudy Gunter at Green River High School in Wyoming,” he said. “He gave me my own room to work in and turned me loose.”
Dowdle also looked to folk artist Charles Wysocki for inspiration.
“He would paint what I call ‘Anywhere America’ or ‘Anywhereville,’ but never a specific place,” Dowdle said. “So I took his format, and decided to paint specific places.”
Producer Miaken Christensen calls the places ahead of time and comes up with an itinerary.
“She will make sure we know where we’re going and what we’ll be doing to tell the story,” Dowdle said. “However, she keeps the schedule open and flexible, because of the unique things that may happen.”
One of those instances occurred during a visit to Niagara Falls.
“We were up in a helicopter and the pilot mentioned a buddy,” Dowdle said. “Come to find that buddy has a friend who was able to take us to places that tourists weren’t able to go. Before you knew it, we had a behind-the-scenes experience of Niagara Falls.”
During the visit to Park City, Dowdle will head up to Ecker Hill, which was named after Utah Ski Club president Peter Ecker, to discover where Utah ski pioneer Alf Engen and others competed in the first Utah State Ski Tournament in 1930.
“That’s really pretty big for us,” Dowdle said.
Filming usually takes four to five days in any given area.
“That does change, especially if we are visiting places like Rome or Melbourne,” Dowdle said. “When we were in Rome earlier, we really had to cram a lot of things in so we could keep on schedule.”
BYUtv talked with Dowdle about airing the show last year.
“We signed in December and started filming the new season in March,” he said.
The series’ executive producer is Marty Patch of Monument Productions.
Before he formed Monument, Patch had done shows for Animal Planet and PBS National.
“We ran into each other years ago and put this thing together,” Dowdle said.
The Park City episode is No. 11 out of 20, Patch said.
“Editing takes close to eight weeks,” he said. “So we’ll be ready to run it in the late fall.”
The episode will air early next year, according to Dowdle’s spokesman.
For information about “Painting the Town with Eric Dowdle,” visit paintingthetownwitheric.com. For information about artist Eric Dowdle, visit http://www.dowdlefolkart.com.
Summit County gardeners can purchase local-climate friendly plants and seeds to grow this season