Ash Festival: the beginning of a new year

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A couple bids on artwork presented at the Ash Fest. Hundreds of people attended the Ash Festival to celebrate the beginning of a new year and donate to charity. (Abigail Keenan)

The Provo City Library had a New Year’s celebration of its own: guests came dressed in black and white to formally celebrate the beginning of a new year. BYU students from Canvas Film Co. held an event debuting local filmmakers and artists.

Sophomore Abigail Keenan, event manager of the festival, explains the attire of the evening:

“We wanted to do something different because there’s a lot of festivals in Utah,” Keenan said. “We thought it’d be cool to walk into an atmosphere where everything’s black and white. The paintings, the photography and the dress are all black and white.”

Several black and white paintings, drawings and photos hung on the back wall during the festival. Many famous local artists such as Dan Barney, Brian Kershisnik and Mary Sauer submitted work for the festival. During the evening a silent auction took place where guests were allowed to purchase what the artists donated.

Aside from a few featured films and the posters advertising the Ash Festival, everything was black and white.

Freshman Benjamin Parker, cofounder of Canvas Film Co., worked specifically on the advertising for the festival.

Founders of Canvas Film Co. Benjamin Parker, Jon Bentley Rawle and Jedediah Thunell. Hundreds of people attended the Ash Festival to celebrate the beginning of a new year and donate to charity. (Abigail Keenan)

“If you’ve seen any of the advertisements, they’re all vivid and colorful,” Parker said. “But the entire festival is black and white actually. So it’s this juxtaposition between life and vivid color, and then when you come to realize that everything’s black and white, it’s kind of like this vivid life starting from nothing.”

Nearly 400 guests were mesmerized by the uniqueness of the festival the entire night.

“It was a lot of fun,” Carol Kounanis, a guest from Heber, Utah, said.

Kounanis enjoyed the night’s events and said she was impressed by the films and seeing everyone in formal garb.

She also expressed that she didn’t know all of the event’s proceeds were being given to charity and was glad that she could be part of a fun night while also giving to a good cause.

The silent auction bids for the showcased artwork were done on boards. Hundreds of peopled attended the Ash Festival to celebrate the beginning of a new year and donate to charity. (Abigail Keenan)

“Every part of this event has been reaching out to someone to see if they can help and reaching out to see what they can contribute and all of it is going to charity,” Parker said.

The Ash Festival’s proceeds went directly to Five12 Foundation, an organization that provides food for elementary students in need.

The night’s agenda included a series of different showcases including featured films by local filmmakers including MP Cunningham, The Good Line, Neighborhood Brains and more. Canvas Film Co. reviewed and picked each of the films shown at the festival in order to set the right mood for the night.

“The films are ranging,” Parker said. “Some are really emotional documentary style and others are completely contemporary art pieces. So as you come, we want it to feel like you’re in one gigantic work of art. Like all of it together is one piece.”

Guests were given the opportunity to vote for their favorite featured film via Instagram after the film portion of the night concluded.

Keenan and Parker said they plan to make the Ash Festival an annual event. Keenan explained that next year they plan on announcing the event earlier in the year so people have more time to prepare.

“We’ll be accepting (submissions) in September … and then our website will have this year’s artwork, so people can kind of get a feel,” Keenan said.

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