The first of what North Mountain artists plan as an annual art walk turned out to be more successful than they'd hoped - and a lot of fun for the people who showed up.
Hundreds of people from Salt Lake and Utah counties turned out last weekend in balmy weather to tour the homes, meet the artists, and view their work. In all, 14 artists participated at nine homes.The well-organized event had plenty of non-artists participating, as well. Spouses, teenage children and neighbors, clad in T-shirts sporting the North Mountain logo, helped direct parking, point the way and refill platters with grapes, strawberries, cheeses and sweet breads.
It seemed no detail had gone unnoticed in the planning. Large, vertical banners on the highway led visitors to the right road on the first try - important because this Bull River area is fairly hidden from the highway. After people parked at the sod farm and plunked down their $5 admission, they were handed a map outlining the route and homes they'd visit.
First stop was Neil Hadlock's studio, where he displayed some of his bronze work and lacquer paintings. At his house next door were Jenni and Day Christensen - she demonstrating her etching process and he showing his art books. Back up the hill, visitors viewed metal sculpture at the home of Frank and Rosemary Riggs. Prints and sculptures by Trevor Southey were displayed in their dining room.
Then it was over the river (treambed) and through the woods to Gary Smith's home, where large paintings of his rural people cover the walls of the studio and living areas. Several signed prints were for sale, and people were buying.
Next door in the mountain-like setting, visitors got a look at the prolific bronzes and paintings in Dennis Smith's studio.
Then it was down some wooden steps to his own sculpture garden and the area's token junkyard, where Smith creates whimsical sculptures out of old machinery, bikes, tools - you name it.
Typical of the organization of this event, a cool glass of water was offered at this point, before visitors headed across a dry creek bed to the studio-home of Ray Morales, graphic designer.
About this time, I was wondering what all these families had done with the clutter and accumulated junk that, surely, every normal family had in their house. Not only were these angular, modernistic homes clean-lined, but they appeared to have nothing that didn't belong there, artisically speaking.
Architect Joe Linton assured me they all had junk somewhere but also had plenty of notice concerning the future visitors. And it occurred to me that we'd only been invited into the living rooms, family rooms, kitchens, and studios. I felt better.
The sprawling lawns virtually out the back doors of these artists' homes are an extension of them and their dream for a place where the public can enjoy their work. The sculpture garden and pond, where refreshments were served and fiddlers entertained the crowds, is where North Mountain hopes to build an art center.
A winding path through the trees and over a bridge led to the last stop, where Gwen and Roger Davis had opened their outdoor kiln to public view. Among other things, the Davises create the whimsical ducks sprawled on disc-shaped pottery. A side trip to Sheldon Hansen's garden was offered at the path's fork.
Back at the sculpture garden, visitors could get a look and an explanation of cast paper by Dion Barron and Jan Blosch, or grab another handful of grapes before heading back up the hill toward the sod-farm-turned-parking-lot.
Between ladling cups of lemon-flavored water, Judy Smith (ife of Gary) reported a steady flow of people from the time the art walk opened at 1 p.m. Scott Kenney, secretary for North Mountain, said afterward, "It was wonderful. I don't know what we could have done to make it better."
I don't know either - except I'm dying to see Linton's house, too, after reading his Cityscape column regularly. Maybe next year, Joe?