Backstage at The Utah Arts Festival 2016: Chad Farnes’ artistic transformation of humble tape materials


Local artist Chad Farnes is one of the 55 new artists at this year’s Utah Arts Festival and he is one of the 34 who have never before shown at any juried festival exhibition. The California native discovered the artistic possibilities of painter’s tape when a college roommate in Utah used it to decorate a room. As he writes in a blog at his Ezetary website: “My roommate felt inspired and trying to find a way around the prohibition on painting our walls, he decided to decorate them with painters tape. Over the next week he created a 6-foot tall image of Mao Zedong’s head, a vespa, and the outline of the seminude female from Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus.”

Farnes started doing art with painter’s tape and then moved on to masking and duct tapes being used on different canvases. He graciously answered several questions in an email interview about his process and art which shape his broader views about nature and land preservation. Farnes also donates 10 percent of the proceeds from art sales to local nonprofit organizations dedicated to the cause of preservation of natural public lands.

The Tabernacle 18″ x 14″ 2014, Tape, part of Utah Taped series, Chad Farnes.
The Tabernacle
18″ x 14″
2014, Tape, part of Utah Taped series, Chad Farnes.

TUR: 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?

CF: I am really passionate about public lands throughout Utah. I am leaving for the next two weeks to do several hiking trips throughout Southern Utah (4 days in Canyonlands, 1 day at Antelope Canyon, 2 days in Vermillion Cliffs, 2 days at the Grand Canyon, and 5 days at Zion). These areas are extremely important to me and I strongly believe in the preservation of such lands. My art has given me a platform to express my thoughts regarding public lands throughout the West. For example, I recently did a 60 piece art show highlighting the National Parks and the need for additional preservation in Utah. As a result of the show, I have been able to travel to two different National Monuments in the Midwest to talk about my art and share my viewpoint.

Kobuk Valley National Park 8″ x 8″ 2014 Tape on Panel From the Tape•ography Collection, Chad Farnes.
Kobuk Valley National Park
8″ x 8″
Tape on Panel
From the Tape•ography Collection, Chad Farnes.

TUR: 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?

CF: I am self taught. I studied art for a very short time in college before settling on studying psychology and school counseling. I don’t know if influence or inspiration is the correct word but the two artists that I love are Anish Kapoor and Dale Chihuly. I love what both artists have done in presenting original art in a unique and unexpected way. Their art makes me question what is possible to create in art. I attempt to take a similar approach by using tape in art.

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

CF: I do art part time and my full time job is as a school counselor for a local high school.

Winter Quarters 16″ x 16″ 2012 Tape Chad Farnes
Winter Quarters
16″ x 16″
Tape Chad Farnes

TUR: 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?

CF: I generally find it easy. What I find difficult is finding enough time to complete all of the ideas that I have. It seems that as soon as I finish one project I have another rolling around my head that I am eager to start.

TUR: 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?

CF: I am nervously excited to participate in the Utah Arts Festival. I am excited to participate as it is an incredible venue to share my art and perspective with the community at large. However I am nervous because I have never participated in any type of event like the Arts Fest before; I have shown at galleries around Utah, but I have never had the opportunity to display and sell my art in a festival type setting.

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Les Roka
I am a native of Toledo, Ohio, having received my Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication from Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism in 2002. In addition to teaching at Utah State University and the University of Utah, I have worked extensively in public relations for a variety of organizations including a major metropolitan university, college of osteopathic medicine, and community college. When it comes to intellectual curiosity, I venture into as many areas as possible, whether it’s about music criticism, the history of journalism, the practice of public relations in a Web 2.0 world and the soon-to-arrive Web 3.0 landscape, or how public debates are formed about many issues especially in the political arena. As a Salt Lake City resident, I currently write and edit a blog called The Selective Echo that provides an entertaining, informative, and provocative look at Salt Lake City and its cosmopolitan best. I also have been the U.S. editorial advisor for an online publication Art Design Publicity based in The Netherlands. And, I use social media tools such as Twitter for blogging, networking with journalists and experts, and staying current on the latest trends in culture and news. I also have been a regular monthly contributor to a Utah business magazine, and I have recently conducted a variety of editing projects involving authors and researchers throughout the country and the world, including Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Lebanon, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, France, and Japan. I’m also a classically trained musician who spent more than 15 years in a string quartet, being involved in more than 400 performances.

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