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Utah Arts Festival tallied big crowds, but mixed success for artists

Published June 25, 2012 8:18 am

Arts festival • A local jewelrymaker was selling out, while another artist had "our slowest show."
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

On Sunday afternoon, jewelry artist Tiffany Blue called her rookie year at the Utah Arts Festival a success.

The owner of Peach Treats in Sandy, she had nearly sold out of her chunky polymer jewelry — including her signature faux gauge earrings which "give you a tribal look without committing to stretching your earlobes."

She started the festival on Thursday "with four full racks [nearly 250 pairs], and I have less than 20 left," said Blue, who quit her full-time job as a human resource manager a year ago to become a full-time artist.

Maybe it was beginner's luck because Steve Harmston, a four-year veteran of the festival, couldn't say the same for his original silkscreen serigraphs.

"This is actually our slowest show," said the Utah native who now lives in Sammamish, Wash. "It might be the wind, the heat, the economy. It's hard to say."

While sales were mixed, festival attendance wasn't. Despite wind and close to triple-digit temperatures, this year's event attracted around 90,000 people, about the same as last year, said Executive Director Lisa Sewell.

Attendance projections are based on ticket sales, she said. The official count will not be available for at least another week.

Sewell said the consistent attendance reflects the range of festival offerings. Besides visual arts, browsers can enjoy live music, films, literary arts, dance, workshops, interactive exhibits and plenty of food and drink.

"Whatever your interests are, you're going to find something you like," she said, noting that there were high-end works for collectors as well as lower-priced offerings for young enthusiasts just starting their collections.

Lindsay Marriott drives from Utah County to attend the festival every year. "I love to see the art and talk to the artists," she said, adding that she always comes away surprised at what she finds. This year, it was the elegant puppets on stilts that performed on Library Square.

"There's always so much to take in," said Marriott.

Michelle Wilson, of Salt Lake City, also is a regular festivalgoer. This year she was hunting for a special urn where she could put the ashes of her two deceased dogs.

"I love to look at the art," she said. "But it's also the best place to people watch."

kathys@sltrib.com