Utah Arts Festival revives tradition after a year of confinement

Utahns gathered for a weekend of art and community in different presentations.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jenny Pinegar assists 16-month-old Jonah as he paints in the creative zone at the Salt Lake Arts Festival, on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021.

The crew of 100 Artists/One image mounted part of a collection of 100 plywood pieces on scaffolding. It would reveal the final look that artist Mason Fetzer envisioned for the 2021 Utah Arts Festival.

Children and adults gathered on the lawn on the first and second day of the festival at Washington Square Park. They all painted their interpretation of small squares provided by Fetzer on a bigger scale. Although it was not yet finished, different shades of red, yellow and light blue hinted at a portrait of a rooster.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Eloise Hall and Olivia Aledlde have fun painting at the creative corner at the Salt Lake Arts Festival, on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021.

This is the 10th year of the 100 Artists/One image, a community project that became a tradition.

“It’s so good to be back,” said Marsha Fetzer, board member of the Utah Arts Festival — and Mason’s mother. For her, having the community together painting pieces of the work was a sign of relief.

Something was happening at every booth and stage around Library Square and Washington Square Park. In the background, instrumental renditions of Olivia Rodrigo’s songs, poems and guitar melodies blended together. Attendants asked questions about the backstories and materials of paintings, pottery, magnets, stickers or sculptures. Some sipped frosted pink drinks out of pineapples or stood in line for strawberries, gyros or tacos.

Jorge Rodríguez, an artist sponsored by the Artes de Mexico en Utah, stopped painting and tried to keep the colors fresh by applying water to the palette he held. His work gathers his political thoughts on mixed media pieces such as his series “A Quienes Castigamos” (Those we Punish, in Spanish) portraits that represent children who have suffered under the U.S. immigration policies.

“These are the most vulnerable people in our society,” said Rodríguez, “and they’re the ones that are paying the highest price for something that really doesn’t make sense to me.”

Sharing the table with his art, there were some handwoven textiles made by Hermanas Lu’um, a collective of indigenous women from Chiapas, Mexico, who make Mayan tapestries.

For Andrea G. Hardeman, creator of Papillon Skies, part of the Utah Black Artist Collective, this was an opportunity to show the result of turning her art into a side business. A path that helped her cope with 2020. “There was a lot of generational trauma and emotional triggers as a Black American, African American going through the year, and I turned to art,” she said, “It has been very healing.”

“I bought some Schitt’s Creek stickers the second I walked in,” Kyrsten Harper, a Papillon Skies customer who attended the festival to support local artists.

“I think it’s good for community to come together, especially after the pandemic where it seems like it got really divisive and really isolating,” said Emily Cacho, an arts administration student at Southern Utah University, “and so just being able to see people and smile and interact, it feels like we’re coming alive again.”

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