Visual artist finds a ‘Sense of Place’ at the Park City Library |

Visual artist finds a ‘Sense of Place’ at the Park City Library

Woodcut prints round out Patricia Smith’s exhibit at the Park City Library. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Tanzi Propst/The Park Record | The Park Record

Patricia Smith’s “Sense of Place” will be on exhibit through Nov. 30 at the Park City Library, 1255 Park Ave. Admission is free. For information, visit

Patricia Smith has carved out her own sense of place in Summit and Wasatch counties.

The visual artist is one of the creatives who laid the foundation for the area’s cultural landscape, including helping establish the Kimball Art Center and its Park City Kimball Arts Festival.

Smith is also one of the cultural cornerstones of the Park City Museum, and many know her for creating the colorful Main Street banners that were unfurled during the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Her latest project is the “Sense of Place” exhibit at the Park City Library that runs through Nov. 30.

“Her story is so unique to Park City and the region, so to have her submit an application to exhibit her works was special because she has such a long history in the community,” said Kate Mapp, the library’s adult services librarian.

Mapp and Community Engagement Librarian Becca Lael helped Smith select the 45 works for the show, Smith said.

“That was very good for me, because artists have no objectivity about their own works,” Smith said with a laugh. “I invited them to my storage unit and spread everything out. They said yes to this and no to that. They chose beautifully.”

Related: A photo gallery of Patricia Smith’s exhibit

Mapp said the experience was a little overwhelming.

“There were so many pieces of artwork to choose from, so we selected pieces that not only resonated with us, but resonated with Patricia,” Mapp said. “The art reflects all of the places where she has lived.”

Those places include New Mexico, Maine, Utah and Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

“We made sure that all the New Mexico pieces are on exhibit together, and that all of the Maine and Cape Cod works are together,” Mapp said. “The library’s reading room features art that represents Summit and Wasatch counties. And the Park City room’s exhibit is of her woodcut prints that represent historic Park City.”

Smith created the art in three different mediums — watercolors, oils and woodcut ink prints.

She has always been fascinated by watercolors, because people told her how difficult the medium is.

“It’s very unforgiving and you have no leeway for mistakes,” she said. “It’s a matter of control, and you have to choose the right color and right density.”

Watercolor art is also a difficult medium to sell, according to Smith.

“Many galleries won’t show them because they appeal to a particular palette that is rare amongst collectors,” she said.

Oils, on the other hand, are easy for Smith to work with, and the medium is a collectors’ favorite.

“It’s fun to work with because it doesn’t dry quickly,” Smith said. “So you can mess with it over and over again.”

The artist uses oils that are produced in New York.

“I get them from a fellow who grinds his own pigments from different minerals,” she said “The colors are so rich.”

Smith likes woodcuts because she enjoys printing posters.

“The images, which are bold and assertive, go back in time to the days of woodtype, inking and printing,” she said. “I used woodcuts in the early Park City days when we needed to make posters for the arts festival.”

Smith said she wanted to be an artist since the time she made her own paste and paper greeting cards before she was in school.

“When I was 5, my mother had taken me and my siblings to an artist, Ada Irvine, who did pastel portraits of us,” she said. “The minute we walked into the room and saw her chalk and materials all displayed, I knew this is what I was going to do.”

As Smith developed her craft, she learned how to spot interesting landscapes to paint.

“I’ve spent a lot of my time in my car, driving three miles an hour around Summit and Wasatch counties,” she said. “I study things and areas for a long time, sometimes for years, before I actually start to paint them. I have to decide when the light is right. I also have to figure out the best time of day and the best time of year.”

Smith actually paints her watercolor works while sitting in her car.

“That saves me from the bugs and temperatures,” she said with a chuckle.

Lately, Smith has put it upon herself to paint scenes more quickly because the areas are disappearing due to development.

“There are some magnificent alfalfa fields that I have painted in the past that have been built upon,” she said. “Art is a very important way to preserve the past as to what was there, who was there and when.”

One of the rewards Smith has reaped from the exhibit is hearing conversations that have been stimulated by the images.

“People will look at a painting and laugh because they remembered something,” she said. “Then they’ll start telling their own stories.”

Most of Smith’s art in the exhibit is available for purchase, Mapp said.

People who are interested in buying a piece of art can inquire at the information desk for prices and contact Smith’s sales representative, she said.

“We are privileged to have her exhibit with us,” Mapp said.

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