Thirty-five years ago, Salt Lake City’s art enthusiasts, with help from a Bicentennial Grant, created a central gathering hub to showcase Utah’s premier artists. Today, residents and tourists enjoy this celebration every summer in downtown Salt Lake on Library Square.
The 2011 Utah Arts Festival (UAF) will run today through Sunday from noon to 11 p.m. each day.
The UAF recently ranked 14th in the Top 100 Fine Arts Fairs for 2011 from the Art Fair SourceBook.
The UAF presents performing, visual and literary arts through three core programs: an artist’s marketplace, culinary arts and performing arts programs.
The organization emphasizes contemporary art and strives to give patrons and participants an interest in and appreciation of fine art, according to the foundation’s homepage.
This year, the festival will include 159 visual artists, more than 100 performing arts groups, a film program, a literary program, a children’s art yard, demonstrating arts, commissions and awards.
With an initial budget of $38,000, the festival has grown in scope by its popularity. Today, the organization has a $1.6 million budget and draws in more than 80,000 people to downtown Salt Lake, said executive director Lisa Sewell.
Eugenie Hero Jaffe, UAF’s media relations coordinator, said everyone can expect to have fun at the festival.
“Expect to be surprised,” Jaffe said in an email. “Your senses will be working on high gear. There will be so much happening. You’ll always find something that excites you.”
Jaffe said people should be sure to catch the art on display, Ballet West’s daily performances, the band Fictionist and try screen printing with Copper Palate Press.
In the Art Yard, children will participate in hands-on projects, sponsored by local corporations and non-profit organizations.
“Providing artistic opportunities for children and young adults to engage in the arts is one of the most important programs we do at the Festival,” Sewell said. “Giving them hands-on experience is one of the best ways to encourage their artistic side and build future artists.”
The Mad Hatter hat project, sponsored by Target, will provide a place where kids can create their own hats from recycled materials.
The Urban Arts area for teens has partnered with Higher Ground Learning to have DJ parties, graffiti art and screen printing with Copper Palate Press.
Workshops and demonstrations from different artistic genres, including, glass blowing, knitting, writing, painting and screen printing, will be presented at this year’s festival.
“The best way to learn an artist’s process is by trying it yourself,” Sewell said. “I want adults to get in on the fun too.”
The mobile glass-blowing studio from Santa Fe, N.M., Prairie Dog Glass and The Glass Art Guild of Utah, will be on site every day to present workshops and demos for spectators. Workshops require pre-registration and a $15 supply fee. Visit uaf.org/glassworkshops to sign up.
This year’s Random Acts of Art project spotlights knitter groups, who, for months prior to the festival, have been stitching light posts, parking meters and tree covers. On June 18, the knitters will reveal a collaborated project piece to go along with World-Wide Knit-in-Public Day. During the festival, the public can join a circle of knitters to complete this year’s Random Act project.
The ninth annual Fear No Film Festival will take place during the UAF and will show more than 60 short films from more than a dozen countries. Fear No Film Festival coordinator Topher Horman has organized the screening into nine showings based on the nine Greek muses. Films are free to the public and will show in the main library auditorium.
The Utah Short Film of the Year Competition will also take place during the festival. Eight films will compete including BYU’s own “DreamGiver,” which won a 2011 Student Emmy. Competition screenings are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in the main library auditorium.
This year also marks the 18th annual Art Attack 5K and Kids K, sponsored by Sports Med Utah, Saturday at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake. All proceeds go to the 2011 UAF Children’s Art Yard projects.
Jaffe said the UAF is popular because it gives people an understanding of what’s going on in the art community in Utah.
“People can easily get wrapped up in their day-to-day lives,” she said. “The UAF gives everyone a chance to see new things, meet new people and come together as a community that loves creativity in all of its forms.”
To purchase tickets, sign up for workshops or for general information about the festival, visit uaf.org.