Orem art festival to celebrate ‘silver linings’ of COVID

Havenlight’s Silver Linings Art Festival will be held Sept. 25-26 at University Place in Orem. (Havenlight Publishing)

Havenlight Publishing is hosting an art festival this weekend at University Place in Orem in an attempt to spotlight artists struggling during COVID-19.

The show, entitled Silver Linings, will feature art, live music and storytellers, and showcase the artwork of over 50 different local and nationally recognized artists.

“Havenlight was initially known for its Christian artwork program, but we’re expanding,” said Scott Usher, one of the event leaders. The artwork will range from Christian artwork to landscapes and wildlife photography.

Much of the art depicts peoples’ experiences during COVID. Even the name, Silver Linings, emerged from seeing the good during a time of fear and loneliness.

“Artists are those groups of people that are struggling and you might not notice to be struggling,” Usher said. “We want to cast a spotlight on artists, to remind people that they’re still there.”

Bryun Lemon, another organizer of the festival, added that artists have a difficult time creating in a vacuum.

“We think of artists as holed up in a little room, creating, and then coming up and throwing it out on the world,” Lemon said. “In reality, their creative gene is enhanced when they have a chance to interact with those individuals who see their art. It’s a give and take, and the problem with COVID is they have lost that connection with people who enjoy the art that they create.”

This Silver Linings painting will be displayed at the Havenlight Silver Linings Art Festival. (Bob Ross)

One of the most anticipated pieces of art for the festival is an original painting by Bob Ross, entitled Silver Linings. Lemon explained that when he was a child, kids his age experienced art for the first time through Bob Ross.

“Bob was a person who made art for the masses,” he said. So when the beloved artist appeared on Netflix, Lemon was overjoyed to see his own children learning to love art as a medium that you could connect with rather than be intimidated by.

“To see the painting up close is an experience,” Lemon said. “You would never have guessed the detail in it, the dimensionality of it. It’s just beautiful, in its own pop-icon way. “

The festival will include art classes for children, according to the festival schedule, and will be tailored to accommodate the new orange phase of the pandemic. It will require mask-wearing, include social distancing and will be open an extra hour early for high-risk attendees.

“One of the difficulties here is, we don’t quite know how to go back to normal, whatever it is,” Lemon said. “That’s what I’m hoping for — to provide a safe place where people can find their new normal, to realize that even though we’re all going through this as individuals, we’re also going through it together.”

He explained that the artists’ prompt for this festival was to look for a silver lining in the darkness.

“The stuff that they brought back is heartwarming. Themes of family, connection, love, but also nature, and the beauty that comes from being alone,” Lemon said. “You can look at COVID as a pandemic that ruined our lives, or you can see it has given us an opportunity to change.”

This weekend’s event will take place at University Place in Orem, on Friday from 12 p.m.-7 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

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