Organizers of the Utah Arts Festival bill it as “Utah’s biggest summer event.” They may be right.
The four-day festival, covering most of two city blocks, brings together 159 visual artists, more than 100 performing groups, and 20 vendors selling culinary arts. It's expected to attract 80,000 people.
'We have a full complement of music at the festival, with five stages," said Lisa Sewell, exective director of the event. "There are national headliners, as well as local musicians, performing everything from hip-hop to blues, bluegrass, classical and rock."
The Utah Arts Festival is open noon to 11 p.m. daily, starting Thursday, June 21, and continuing through June 24. The festival is on the grounds of the Salt Lake City Library and Salt Lake's City & County Building. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, free for age 12 and younger.
Ted Seibert, one of the invited artists this year, works in sand. Seibert and his Sand Sculpture Company hold the world record for building the tallest hand-shoveled sand sculpture. The 24-foot-2-inch masterpiece took 86 hours to build. At the Utah Arts Festival, they'll be using 20 tons of sand to create a sculpture of flamenco dancers.
"He will be working on it over the course of the festival, so people can interact with him and watch," said Sewell.
The festival is also bringing in Dragon Knight Stilt Puppets, which are 12-feet tall. The Loren Kahn Puppet & Object Theater is also performing, and festival-goers can try their own skills with the Utah Puppetry Guild.
Other highlights of the festival include the Fear No Film festival, with 60 short films, and literary arts performers, including storytellers, poets and stand-up comics.
"There will be writing workshops, as well as the Wasatch Iron Pen competition, a 24-hour competition in which people are given a visual cue and have 24 hours to do a poem or short story," said Sewell.
The festival is partnering with The Leonardo art and science museum to host Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett. The husband-and-wife team created the steampunk-inspired books "Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel" and "Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention."
The Tom Mattingly Dance Project premieres a new commission from the Utah Arts Festival at 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 22. Mattingly is a soloist with Ballet West.
In addition to artists from across the country, the market includes jewelry maker Denise Petersen of Kaysville, Ogden potters Craig and Karl Haaser, photographers Jim and Britney Stettler of Pleasant View, polymer clay artist MaryAnne Loveless of Bountiful, and Loriano Tolaini of Bountiful, who makes leather bags.
Pilar Pobil, a painter from Salt Lake, will have a solo exhibit of her work, "Expressions in Color," in The Gallery at Library Square, June 21 through Aug. 3. A limited number of adults can sign up for $25 hands-on art workshops, creating painted frames, with Pobil.
The Art Yard features a mix of make-and-take projects for young children, but teens aren't going to be left out. In the Urban Arts area, teens and young adults can work with Higher Ground Learning, a local nonprofit, and Copper Palate Press, to make guerrilla art and learn printmaking and silk screening skills. They can also help make a mural, and make some noise.
"It kind of feels like Christmas does," said Sewell, about getting ready for the festival. "I am so excited to be putting the final touches on."