Park City artist continues Grand America window exhibit tradition
Theme is Holidays Around the World
When people visit the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City, they can embark on a world Christmas tour with hotel mascot Maurice the penguin, thanks to the art of Silver Creek resident Jonnie Hartman.
Hartman, whose specialty is public art, has created the hotel’s indoor window displays for the hotel for the past six winters. She has made scenes that symbolize songs and traditions.
This year the theme is “Holidays Around the World.” Scenes, which feature more than 250 hand-glittered and painted pieces, include an ice climbing yodeling penguin, a skier hitting the slopes in Germany, two mechanical ice skaters, 60 handmade paper tulips, flamenco dancers, life size Russian matryoshka dolls and more.
“There are 16 windows this year,” Hartman said during a Park Record interview. “Of those, 14 are of different countries and two show a departure from Utah and a return to Utah.”
In addition, each window has either the words “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” written in the different countries’ languages.
“Each person who visits the windows will have a scavenger hunt card and can match the windows to each greeting,” Hartman said.
Selecting the countries to depict was a fun, but difficult process.
“I wish we had more windows,” Hartman said with a smile. “I had a huge list that I wanted to do, but the Grand America narrowed it down.”
Hartman worked with some of the world’s iconic countries, including Italy and France.
“I also included England, Holland and Germany and the Ukraine,” she said. “In fact, the Ukraine window is beautiful. I put a traditional Ukrainian outfit on an ice skater, and she is holding a big flowered wreath.”
Among her favorites is the Scotland scene.
“We have a hand-stitched adorable five-foot-tall Loch Ness Monster,” Hartman said.
Hartman began working on the window ideas at the end of May.
‘“It was fun doing all of these because I had to study the cultures and find their traditions during Christmas,” she said. “I did a lot of studying and sketching.”
The artist began working on the displays in August.
“I have to think, ‘How long was I in my garage?’” Hartman said, laughing. “I built and built until November, because the windows opened on Nov. 22.”
The displays are made out of everything from fabric, paint and glitter.
“I used roughly 10 pounds of glitter,” she said.
The window spaces varied.
“We had areas as big as 12 foot by 10 foot down to 2 feet by 6 feet,” Hartman said. “That made it fun and challenging because the spaces dictated what country went in which window.”
Hartman used the bigger spaces for the ones that were more mechanical. This year, there were more mechanical displays than in the past.
“That’s cool, because each time I do this, I try to add more movement,” she said.
One window proved to be quite the puzzle.
“This was the France window that has the Eiffel Tower that measures 4 feet tall,” Hartman said. “It’s build out of metal that I welded together and I wanted to make it shimmer like the real Eiffel Tower, so I used copper-wire lights.”
Every time Hartman plugged a strand in, it would fry out.
“Each time that happened, I thought it was a defective [strand],” she said. “So, I would plug another one in and that one would also short circuit.”
After two weeks of trial and error, Hartman realized the lights fizzed out because the copper wiring touched the metal Eiffel Tower frame.
“I finally found a different way to make it shimmer,” she said with a sigh.
The overall ideas of the window exhibits is to show Maurice gather items from all of the countries so he can decorate the Grand America Christmas tree.
“With the all unrest in our world, this is such a unifying theme to help people remember we all share this world we live in,” Hartman said. “Even though the windows are animated and light-hearted, the theme is unifying.”
Hartman is thankful the Grand America has asked her to do the windows.
“I have a team of five people who help me each year and we feel so lucky the Grand asked us to do this because they could have asked anyone,” she said.
The Grand America will showcase Jonnie Hartman’s “Holidays Around the World” window display through New Year’s Eve. For more information, visit http://www.jonniehartmanart.blogspot.com and http://www.grandamerica.com/promotions/holiday-window-stroll.
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