Park City’s Kimball Arts Festival July 31 – August 2 

When I was a child, one of the biggest events each summer in my small town was “Art in the Park.” It loomed large for me, my parents looked forward to it, there was always music in the gazebo at the park’s center, and the entire town seemed to turn out to stroll through booth after booth, where artists displayed their work.

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When Jeffrey and I first moved to Park City, our arrival coincided with the Park City Kimball Arts Festival. I was thrilled, especially when I discovered that it was an even bigger affair than that of my own hometown. The show takes over all of Historic Main Street, hosts artists from all over the world, while still including a lot of local artists. It’s a thrill for me to see which of my friends are in the show each year, in part because when I visit their booths, I can see others appreciate their work as much as I do.

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It’s no surprise to me that all of these years later, I greet the first weekend of August with eager anticipation, as the Park City Kimball Arts Festival (July 31 – August 2), rolls into town. Our children have attended the festival in baby carriers, strollers and backpacks, growing into walkers who stood in awe at the foot of giant, moving sculptures.

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Art has a multi-generational appeal and the Kimball takes a lot of pride in making sure there is something for the whole family. From including large format sculptures in a sort of “garden” on Heber Avenue, to the shaved ice vendors and a variety of food vendors with tastes for almost every palate (we’re partial to the kosher hot dogs at Java Cow), to creating interactive experiences for kids. In fact, there’s a hands-on center for on-the-spot art projects (design-a-hat, tie-dye shirts, clay molding), and a “treasure hunt” with clues that can be answered by visiting various artists’ and sponsors’ booths, that help foster an appreciation for the arts in kids. In fact, I give the treasure hunt credit for serving as a great ice-breaker for my kids to get used to talking to artists about their work.

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Often—by arrangement or by chance—some of our family visitors are in town for the art festival. Last year, one set of doting grandparents was in town, and both Lance and Seth undertook a photography project all their own. Then snapped photos of each other, of all of us, and asked each artist what inspired their work, and whether it was okay for them to photograph pieces that made an impression on them. More than once, the kids asked detailed questions about technique, and each artist took the time to answer in the kind of detail that only stoked the fire of curiosity. Of course, part of this project involved the camera on my phone, so I was able to see, nearly instantly, how they captured the spirit of the day.

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What I found was a creative and playful photo essay of our “Day at the Kimball.” It made me wonder what other families do to engage their kids at the festival and in the art world in general. It made me wonder how my kids will approach the festival this year. So, if you see us wandering through the booths, trailing our smartphone-photographer kids, stop us, say hi, and tell us about your favorite part of the Kimball Arts Festival this year. See you on Main Street!

Lego Maniacs

This time of year is what the locals call “shoulder season.”  The resorts are closed for skiing and the town quiets down quickly.  Here is a suggestion for what to do while exploring Main Street during the 2013 spring shoulder season:

photo (16)In my house, we speak three languages: English, Star Wars and Lego.

photo (14)Lego, often, is the predominant language, with my kids’ brick creations often expressing their every Star Wars fantasy, or say, their love for their mom. To wit: I came home one day to find that Seth had re-purposed the helicopter skids from one set, and the light sabers from another, plus the pirate’s ponytail from a third, to accessorize a mini figure into “Mom.” Perhaps my obsession with skiing is noticeable to my kids?

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(It is to everyone else, of course. Witness the sign I received as a 40th birthday gift from “Florida Keys Girl and Guy”, that reads simply: Eat. Sleep. Ski., that now hangs prominently in my home.)photo (19)

 Anyway, I knew we had a home run of a family activity when I saw that the Kimball Art Center (kimballartcenter.org) was hosting The Art of the Brick, an exhibition of the artist Nathan Sawaya’s sculptures that are made entirely out of our favorite molded bricks. We marveled at the skill with which he had created 3-D sculptures, optical illusions (“canvases” that looked, from afar, to be paintings, but turned out to be portraits rendered with the smooth sides of the bricks.)

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Naturally, the exhibit includes a play area in the gallery lobby for visitors to attempt their own creations on-site. (With Seth unable to pass up a chance to build, Lance, Jeff and I took turns visiting Mark Maziarz’s fascinating “geolines” exhibit, in which he has manipulated his signature nature images into a new art form.) http://www.kimballartcenter.org/?exhibit=geolines-by-mark-maziarz

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The Kimball is a great stop any week of the year, but if you have Lego fans in your life, get there before April 21, or log on to www.brickartist.com/exhibitions to see where the show is headed next.

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