Backstage at The Utah Arts Festival 2018: Record-setting Artist Marketplace evokes stories, memories, emotions, unique appeal to audiences, potential buyers

The 175 artists who comprise the Artist Marketplace for the 42nd annual Utah Arts Festival came from the largest pool of applicants in the event’s history: 649. And an expert jury, led by coordinators Matt Jacobson and his assistant Sarah Baker Taylor, recommended artists not only on the basis of technical considerations such as details and quality of composition or on aspects of color and texture but also on meaning and themes that evoke or echo stories, history, emotions and unique appeal to audiences and potential buyers.

The overall objective is to capture the creative process of making art in various media, as it stands in the 21st century featuring artists who are among the most successful in the country in presenting a body of artwork that is consistent and cohesive. Furthermore, the selection of artists each year is sensitive to establishing the right balance among new and returning artists. The marketplace represents 63 artists from Utah and 112 from outside of the state (watch The Utah Review coverage throughout the next two weeks for individual artists’ features). More importantly: 56 are making their first appearance at the marketplace (31 percent of the entire list).

Among the artists featured are last year’s award winners, who automatically were selected for the 2018 event. They include:

Matthew Sievers

Matthew Sievers, Painting, Rigby, Idaho (Best of Show, Gallery Association Award), Booth 106

Sievers, a native of Lewisville, Idaho, is carrying on the family legacy, as his father was a painter. Sievers recalls in a statement posted at his website that “outside my bedroom door hung an ink drawing of Charlie Chaplin, and a cubist painting of a royal king and queen along with many other diverse forms of artwork.”

His style was shaped by various experiences including, naturally, his father, and his education at Brigham Young University-Idaho and Utah State University, along with tours in Africa and Europe. He creates the perceptive textures of depth in his oil paintings through a combination of spontaneous brushstrokes and the palette knife. His work also is carried in the Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Frank Falk

Frank Falk, 3-D Mixed Media, Salt Lake City (Best of Show, Sponsor Jury Award), Booth 20

Like Falk, many emerging artists introduce their work at local art markets and craft fairs. In 2016, he won Best of Show honors at Logan, Utah’s Summerfest. The iHorns art of Falk, whose career has been as a litigation consultant, has attracted a good deal of attention at festivals and artisan craft marketplaces in the region.

As noted in a 2017 feature at The Utah Review, “what started as a simple gift for the youngest of his seven children has blossomed into a thriving artistic platform known as iHorns. He takes objects created long before there were even the faintest notions about WiFi connectivity and Bluetooth technology and repurposes them as wonderful speakers for smartphones, including a convenient dock.”

His work is a definitive statement on the business and culture of technology, and he “sees the marriage of science and art as emphasizing the joyous reactions and emotional connections people make to art. Patrons who purchase his art do it for various reasons, some functional while others might buy larger pieces that become significant additions to personal art collections. Every horn provides a unique sound quality but every art piece purchase includes the history behind it.”

Gerald Arrington

Gerald Arrington, Ceramics, Sebastopol, California (Best of Show, Artist Marketplace Award), Booth 71

A graduate of Idaho State University, Arrington combined his passion for fine art with geology and he continued to develop his creative identity in central Idaho’s Wood River valley before moving to Sebastopol in the midst of California’s Sonoma County landscapes.

Regarding his stoneware ceramics, he begins by throwing a closed form on the wheel and then adds colored slips to create a stratifying effect. Once the piece in progress dries for a period, he paddles the form until it resembles the shapes and characteristics of river stones. The finished works remind of stratified sedimentary stones worn and smoothed by water. He received his first Best of Show honors at last year’s Utah Arts Festival.

Tai Taeoalii

Tai Taeoalii, Drawing and Pastel, Hannibal, Missouri (Award of Merit, Sponsor Jury Award), Booth 142.

A self-taught artist who grew up in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, Taeoalii emphasizes sociopolitical themes in his works which are, as he describes them, “surreal ballpoint pen drawings on Mylar paper, blended with watercolor, color pencil, and charcoal smearing techniques [that] evoke dream-like visuals and challenge viewers to reconsider their perspectives of how they observe their surroundings and the events in which they are engulfed in, especially concerns about war, industry, environmental degradation and other current issues.

In an interview with Fort Worth Magazine published in April, he talked about his influences, including Salvador Dali and his maturation as an artist over the last dozen or so years. He started by “using stencils and spray paint to create colorful and soulless artwork for the masses. He added, “I always doodled with a pen, but back then I wasn’t confident or knowledgeable enough to do anything with my pen work. … My work has evolved in a lot of different ways over the years, but the one thing that has remained true and what I’m most proud of is its authenticity.” Last year, he won the People’s Choice Award at the Fort Worth Arts Festival.

Romantic Rose Leaf Turquoise, Kathleen Carricaburu

Kathleen Carricaburu, Jewelry, Salt Lake City (Award of Merit, Gallery Association Award), Booth 22

An artist who specializes in hand-crafted metalsmithing, Carricaburu’s training included her bachelor of fine arts degree from The University of Utah in painting and drawing and graphic design, followed by a master of fine arts degree in metal smithing/jewelry from New Mexico State University. She augmented her experience with three years of advanced small metals at the University of Utah and studies at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina.

In her statement at her website, she explains how she approaches her art and her relationship to the natural environment with the perspective of an alchemist. “I hope that my love of the material translates in my metal work,” she says. “I love the fact that I am working with elements such as minerals and fire and that it moves and bends and transforms sometimes from solid to liquid and that there is always an element of risk.” Her work also is available at Trove Gallery in Park City, Sundance Gallery in and Freshman’s in Salt Lake City.

Micheal Paul Cole

Micheal Paul Cole, Photography, Hannibal, Missouri (Award of Merit, Artist Marketplace Award), Booth 25

Cole’s work focuses on compositional effects that spark emotional sensations and responses to the subject rather than just the documentation one would expect from a photographer. In explaining how he achieves the organic nature of his work, he mentions at his website that each photograph has “three creative lives.” He uses 4- by 5-inch sheet film and then processes and prints the photograph on gelatin silver paper incorporating various darkroom techniques before staining and tinting the image with oil pigments, varnish and tar. In a 2013 interview with the Mowen Solinsky Gallery, he went deeper into his creative process:

“I don’t obsess over the details, I just work in a way that connects me to those original feelings. Like with the numbered nails [that hold the photos in place], I don’t think about the specific numbers or how they are positioned, I think more about the patina of the nails and the feeling they evoke.

“Same with some of the stains I use. I don’t apply the stain meticulously; it can be chaotic, yet it has that same feeling. It’s authentic, not controlled or contrived. It’s like a carnival … you get the whole sensation when you step in. That’s what art should be – the details make up the whole.”

Justin Hillgrove

Justin Hillgrove, Painting, Snohomish, Washington (People’s Choice Award), Booth 160

A mostly self taught artist, Hillgrove worked in the design industry before venturing full-time in a career as an independent artist. There is a respectable chance that many have seen results of his work even if they do not directly connect his name to this work. His output includes Parody and Tribute series paintings in which his creative expression is protected by the First Amendment and by the doctrine of Fair Use with regard to tributes and mashups.

Hillgrove has contributed art to comics, toys and board games, painted murals commissioned by Facebook for Seattle and London, participated in the Schulz Museum’s artist-in-residence program and created covers for Boom Studios / Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time comic. Among his newest projects is illustrating a children’s book for Little Bigfoot (a division of Sasquatch Books/Scholastic), a publication set to be released in 2020. He also recently started a semi-weekly Vlog titled Art and Monsters with Marcus Young of Lasting Impression Art.

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