Annual Park City Arts Festival is underway |

Annual Park City Arts Festival is underway

Be kind to the artists showcasing their work at the Park City Arts Festival this weekend. Festivals like this make the difference between being able to pay for groceries or not. The Park City Arts Festival kicks off its 39th year today at 9 a.m. There will be live music, food and a kids’ corner.

Judy Summer, a local sculptor, has been involved with Park City’s emerging art scene for more than 25 years. As Park City was gaining its legs as a world-class ski resort town, Summer was busy with other local artists promoting Park City as an arts destination. Since then, the number of artists that have moved into town and the number of new galleries that have opened has steadily increased.

Summer, who has been involved with the festival since it was adopted by the Kimball Arts Center, said the goal has always been to focus attention on local artists.

"It’s been exciting to see the quality of the work and buyers improve," Summer said. Fine art has always had a niche, she said, but craft people were looked down upon until about the beginning of the 1980s. Summer recalls talking to an artist who did hot glass work. The artist didn’t have any desire to return to Utah – people kept mistaking her hot glass work for resin.

Thankfully, for artists’ sake, the crowd has become more knowledgeable and sophisticated, which in turn has helped sales, Summer said. Sharon Maney Lomanto, who is currently exhibiting at the Kimball Arts Center, said the festival is a place where the artists have been chosen well and are serious about what they do.

For the community, it brings visitors from all over the area and makes Park City more visible.

Summer said the event’s reputation among other art festivals is good, which attracts other professional artists to apply from all over the country. Felix Saez, who works with mixed media, said he thinks it’s an event people look forward to.

"Park City, as far as I’m concerned, is an art-destination city – not just for visual arts, but also performing arts," Saex said. "Park City is strong for [the arts] and needs a big stimulus like this every year."

For artists, it’s a chance to network and earn a few bucks.

Before the Kimball Arts Center’s gallery monthly gallery walks, Summer said, it was difficult to get the public out to visit galleries. The festival has made it easier for local artists to meet the public, and Saez said it is a way for him to build patronage.

Many Park City galleries have expanded across the nation. Lomanto said this is an opportunity for networking and exposure for artists. This is because an artist’s work can be featured in the main gallery and in its other locations.

Jim Simister, from Coalville, creates functional ware, such as kitchen ware – casserole dishes, baking dishes and dinnerware. He said the festival gives him a local outlet for his product and helps him test the market for new items. The nice thing about having a local product, he said, is it gives him a chance to establish himself with people and they can come over to his shop, Sunstone Pottery, and pick items up.

But the best benefit? Meeting with peers.

"There are [artists] we only see during art festival season," Simister said. He said of his fellow artists, "it’s good to see those people again."

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