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Relevant artists count down to crunch time

Michael Amici fully expects to work into the wee hours of the morning on Friday, the final day of Relevant 2010, a new artist-in-residence program established by the Kimball Art Center and Spiro Arts.

"I’ll probably end up working 24 hours without any sleep," he says. "It always seems to end up as a race against time."

Amici, a Park City resident, is one of six art students selected to participate in the program. Starting on Monday, Aug. 2, the residents will have four days to create a piece of art to be showcased and auctioned off at the Opening Night Art Auction & Gala of the 41st annual Park City Kimball Arts Festival.

Relevant is designed to give selected undergraduate and graduate-level art students the knowledge and platform necessary to become successful full-time career artists. The program will provide participants with in-studio sessions with mentors, panel discussions and networking events with art-industry professionals, as well as the opportunity to showcase their work during the Arts Festival.

Amici, 25, has lived in Park City since the age of three. "I have always been interested in art of one kind or another, be it classical music, painting, drawing, ceramics or sculpture," he says. "For as long as I can remember, I have had creative urges and curiosity about the world. In one way or another, I’ve been doing art most of my life."

He says he was surprised and thrilled to be selected to participate in Relevant. "It’s like an invitation to do something interesting. It can be intimidating, but it’s filled with great promise," he says.

Amici was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a high functioning form of autism, and dropped out of high school during his freshman year. He later obtained a GED and is currently enrolled at the University of Utah as a non-matriculated student studying art and Soviet-era literature.

He has turned to creating art in recent years as a way to channel his unique thought processes. He works primarily in ink and oil paints, creating 2D pieces with abstract geometric shapes and patterns.

"[Asperger’s] has caused me problems but also ‘opens doors,’ if you will," he says. "Opening doors" happens to be the theme for Relevant 2010.

"Whatever the artists do must evoke the theme," explains Erin Linder, director of exhibitions for the Kimball Art Center.

Amici will work closely with Tom Judd, an established painter from Philadelphia, throughout the course of the residency.

Judd joins five other local and national artists- Marin Abell, Ed Trask, Lucy Slivinski, Justin Parisi-Smith and Stacy Phillips – to serve as mentors for the Relevant artists. According to Linder, each student will be assigned to a mentor, but every mentor and student will have a chance to interact with one another.

Both students and mentors will work and stay at the Spiro Arts artist-in-residence community located at Silver Star in Park City. Each day of the program will include ample studio time and mentor work sessions.

Students will also attend seminars on how to sell themselves as artists and how to navigate the business aspect of art. "While these students are brilliant in how they create art, they’re not as equipped in marketing and getting it into a gallery and selling it," Linder says. "We’re really hoping to provide some of those business skills that they can couple with their artistic skill set."

Each evening during the residency, a different mentor will give a presentation on his or her artistic journey. The presentations will take place from 7 to 7:45 p.m. at the Silver Star studio building and are free and open to the public.

The residents will display and auction off the pieces they create during the course of the program at the Opening Night Gala on Friday, Aug. 6. Mentors have also submitted pieces for the live auction and all proceeds will be split between the artists and the Kimball Art Center.

"We see the gala as a great opportunity for these artists to be exposed on a broader platform to a group of collectors and art enthusiasts and to have to the experience of creating a work for that specific purpose," Linder says. "For them to be able to experience this early on is daunting, I’m sure, but also very exciting."

In addition to artwork by Relevant artists and mentors, the Gala will feature centerpieces created by members of the Kimball Art Center’s Young Artists Academy that will be available for purchase.

The public can view all artwork from the live auction in the Kimball’s main gallery during the Arts Festival Aug. 7 and 8.

The pilot program is the first step in developing Relevant into a major component of the Park City Kimball Arts Festival. "We definitely see this as something that we’d like to continue to build upon each year and that will continue to grow in notoriety for both students applying to the program as well as those who come to see the up-and-coming talent," Linder says. "It really puts Park City and the Kimball Art Center on the map."

For more information about Relevant, the Opening Night Auction and Gala, and the Park City Kimball Arts Festival, visit http://www.kimballartcenter.org.

Revelant artists:

  • Michael Amici, 25 — Park City

    University of Utah, oil on canvas

  • Andrew Davis, 21 — Urbandale, Iowa

    Kansas City Art Institute, painting/sculpture

  • Joel Fisher, 23 — Kalamazoo, Mich.

    Western Michigan University, welded steel

  • Ryan Hughes, 29 — Minneapolis, Minn.

    Minneapolis College of Art and Design, acrylic painting/mixed media and drawing

  • Wilson Lawrence — Stonington, Conn.

    Massachusetts College of Art and Design, wood/metal

  • Nicole Penoncello — Portland Ore.

    Portland State University, sculpture


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