COME FOR THE MOUNTAINS,
STAY FOR THE ART

From folk art to fine art, wildlife photography to modern sculpture, no artistic niche goes unrepresented on Park City’s historic Main Street. In a short four-block stroll, there are no less than 20 thriving art galleries, and many more dotting the surrounding Historic District.

By Conner Newbold

 

Photos by Kevin Kiernan

An Artistic Community

When industry in Park City shifted from minerals to mountain peaks, the art scene moved in alongside the resorts.

“There’s a natural friendship that happens between traveling nature-lovers and a vibrant arts community,” says Bret Webster, owner of Bret Webster Images Gallery and professional photographer.

That community is clearly important to the people of Park City, as evidenced by a tight-knit group of organizations that collaborate on events and exhibitions to help galleries, studios, stages and screens thrive.

“The scene here is very positive and friendly and interesting and even humorous. It’s very accessible, there’s not a hint of snootiness I’ve ever encountered,” Webster says. “That’s one of the things that amazes me about Park City — the people have this perpetual positivity about life. It’s contagious.”

 

Last Friday Gallery Stroll

Perhaps the most accessible event on the scene is the Last Friday Gallery Stroll, hosted by the Park City Gallery Association on (you guessed it) the last Friday of every month.

Attendees spend a leisurely evening wandering through Park City’s picturesque historic district, backlit by the sunset on the Wasatch Back. Light refreshments are provided, and there’s plenty of time to explore other shops on the way to the next gallery (much of the local cuisine could easily be considered art, after all).

Widely attended by locals and visitors alike, the stroll wanders past more than 20 galleries. It’s a chance not only to admire the art, but to meet and interact with artists and curators — and hopefully come away with a great painting or two.

While the selection is eclectic, a common theme runs throughout many of the exhibitions: art from the American west, with breathtaking local nature photography and inspiring modern landscape painting. And while they may not be included in the stroll brochure, there are several craft art shops selling handmade furniture, jewelry and leather goods for the more functionally inclined buyer.

 

The Kimball Arts Center

A different way to get involved in the Park City art scene is at the Kimball Arts Center. Located deep in the gallery district, the center is open to the public and hosts exhibitions, gallery tours, special events, and even a variety of workshops and classes.

Founded by the late Bill Kimball in an old garage in 1976, the original goal of the center was to build a community around visual arts. “I hope the art center will enable (artists) to fulfill themselves and enrich their lives beyond the necessity to make a living,” wrote Kimball.

The art center’s largest undertaking is the annual Park City Kimball Arts Festival, drawing more than 58,000 art enthusiasts annually to celebrate the arts. The festival features a variety of artist booths, free concerts, artisan food vendors and kids’ activities.

“I came to Park City because I knew it was the place I could participate in the (art) community,” Webster says. “And it was a great decision. I love the community here. I’m very happy about it. I’d recommend it.”