Backstage at the 2024 Utah Arts Festival: Meet some of the artists in the Artist Marketplace — Part 3

Found, reclaimed and upcycled materials, the confidence of flexing and fusing traditional and digital media and an acute sensitivity for representing nature, its  cycles and rhythms are just some observations about this year’s Utah Arts Festival’s Artist Marketplace

Approximately 32% of the artists who applied this year for the festival were accepted. With a jury composed of experts and community members, led by coordinators Matt Jacobson and his assistant Sarah Baker Taylor, the group recommended the slate of 187 artist booths (171 artists plus six emerging artists; 16 double booths). Jurors based their decisions on technical considerations such as details and quality of composition or on aspects of color and texture. But, they also considered meaning and themes that evoke or echo stories, history, nature, emotions and unique appeal to audiences and potential buyers.

This year’s marketplace includes 54 who are making their first appearance at the Utah Arts Festival. There will be 103 from outside of Utah. Among the 73 Utah artists are six who are part of the festival’s Emerging Artists program. This year’s pool included 592 applicants. The slate includes several artists who won awards at the 2023 festival. All of the visual artist award winners for this year’s festival will be eligible for invitation to the Utah Arts Festival in 2025. Best of Show and People’s Choice Award winners also will have their booth fees waived.

Based on recommendations from Jacobson and Taylor, The Utah Review asked some of the artists to answer some questions about their upcoming shows at the festival. For the next few days, The Utah Review will offer a selection from the Meet the Artists Series

The questions were:

1. How have you used art media forms in helping to create an holistic body of artistic work that searches for a more complete expression of your own innermost and most powerful states of emotion, inspiration, contemplation, and self-identity?

2. What is your training as an artist? Who do you consider your most significant influences and inspirations? Do these influences shift as you progress both in your work and life?

3. Do you work full-time exclusively as an artist? Or, how do you augment your work as an artist?

4.  Do you find it easy or difficult to start new work? And, typically, how do you prepare yourself to handle both the creative and physical demands of creating your art? 

5. With regard to participating in the Utah Arts Festival, please share your feelings about being a part of this enterprise? Have you been in other festivals and do you plan to explore other festival venues?

Ian Andor, 2-D Mixed Media, Salt Lake City (Booth 9)

  1. USING ART MEDIA FORMS: For me, exploring and experimenting with the media I’m working with are fundamental. Since much of my work uses found paper: maps, old pages, etc, The work is reflective of that particular substrate allowing it to evolve using whatever medium I employ. The joy of discovery is reflective of the maps themselves which guide me to the destination I am seeking, and the animalian inhabitants found therein. The work only reflects my self-identity in that it is an exploration and manifestation of my own mind, body, and soul navigating an artifact towards an unknown destination.
  2. TRAINING AS AN ARTIST: Although I do have an art degree, I am mostly self taught, and much of the technique was cultivated through experimentation, trial and error, and of course observing and admiring other artists’ work who are too numerous to mention here. My middle school and high school art teacher, Mr Cushing, saw something special in the fantastical drawings I created at the time, and his influence helped me to have faith that I could do something with my talent, although it was a long struggle finding what, and how. In addition the animal kingdom, and the natural design of such creatures, continues to amaze and inspire me to depict them in a context that is worthy of their kingly splendor and beauty.
  3. CAREER TIME: I am employed full time as an artist-vendor. In the future I would like to cultivate my own studio-storefront where I could bring the art directly to the audience in a single location and slimming down on the markets, but for now I’m traveling for shows year round, and finding the time to make new art whenever I can. 
  4. STARTING NEW WORK: It depends on the piece. Some pieces require more forethought and planning than others, but generally I find working through road blocks a satisfying part of the process, which fuels ideas for successive work.  
  5. BEING PART OF THE UTAH ARTS FESTIVAL: This will be my third year at the Utah Arts Festival, and due to the nostalgia of attending it in my younger years, it is at the top of the list of favorites, thanks to the audience, organizers, and atmosphere. I attend many markets and festivals throughout the year but I would say UAF is still the best!

Eric Sewell, Ceramics, Lincoln, Nebraska (Booth 155)

  1. USING ART MEDIA FORMS:I work in clay and make things that I want to see exist in the world. It’s aspirational, in that I want these useful objects to be a microcosm of what the greater environment and aesthetic can be.
  2. TRAINING AS AN ARTIST:  I have a BFA in Studio Art, but at this point in my career most of my methods and techniques are self-taught and the product of years of doing the work. My baseline inspirations are all from nature: western landscapes, geologic formations, various biological forms and components. But I synthesize this imagery and abstract it a bit, usually resulting in work that evokes reminders of the real world while still being their own alien object.
  3. CAREER TIME: Being an artist full-time is certainly the goal, but the reality of this country in 2024 necessitates various part time and gig jobs to make ends meet. Since I have a huge van for hauling my work I do delivery work in the festival off season.
  4. STARTING NEW WORK: I tend to always have some aspect of the creative process going at any given time, so it’s more a matter of building off of previous work and evolving the imagery into a more fully realized version of what’s in my head. For preparation, it mostly consists of taking care of myself and my body. Staying active and in shape, taking care of my hands and wrists and back and knees – making artwork is physical work and I hope to keep doing it for a long time, so I need to take care of my body. As far as the creative demands, well, I feel that I’m never short on creativity. 
  5. BEING PART OF THE UTAH ARTS FESTIVAL:I’m excited to participate in the Utah Arts Festival! This will be my first time exhibiting in Utah and my first time exhibiting in the Mountain Time Zone, period. I spend most of the festival season in the midwest – starting in Texas and Missouri in the spring and moving north to Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois through the summer and fall. Right now I do about 15-18 festivals a year, but I’m still figuring out my ‘spots’ and optimizing my schedule. Hopefully this one can be a regular occurrence!

Leave a Reply