More than 20 galleries populate Old Town, offering a concentration of visual art you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere in Utah. Having so many choices, however, can be a bit overwhelming. Enter Melissa Soltesz, creator and head tour guide of Soltesz Fine Art Tours. “Our tours give both locals and visitors a glimpse at the rapidly growing Utah art scene while offering something different from Park City’s largely sports-focused culture,” she says.
Soltesz first discovered her eye for art in college where, after taking an art history class, she found art appreciation and interpretation came naturally to her. After graduating with a degree in art history and studio art from Marist College in New York, she worked as an intern for the Barrett House Art Center, home to the 75-year-old Dutchess County Art Association in Poughkeepsie, New York. It was during this time that Soltesz fell in love with the gallery industry and, after gaining valuable experience from her internship, moved to Park City. She’s been in Utah 15 years now, developing her art appraisal services and, for the past few years, her gallery tour business.
“Park City galleries feature not only local and regional artists, but also nationally and internationally based artists,” Soltesz explains. “A few galleries in town strive to represent mainly Utah artists. This is wonderful as it showcases our local talent to the multitude of Park City visitors. However, as major art destinations demonstrate, it is important to find a range of works from gallery to gallery. Art appreciation is very personal, so variety is a key element that ties a gallery community together.”
Soltesz’s tours typically focus on four galleries within walking distance of one other. “I give clients a little background on the gallery, artist, and technique. It’s an intimate setting,” she says. Meeting gallery owners, artists, and other art enthusiasts is also part of the experience, giving participants an insider’s perspective on the local art scene they’d likely not get otherwise. Tours focusing on the Kimball Arts Festival and Park City’s public art are among the other themed tours Soltesz offers. And every tour covers tips on collecting, pricing, and valuing artwork as well as her observations on local, regional, and national trends.
“Since I have lived in Park City, I’ve watched a gradual shift from the more traditional, western- and mountain-themed art toward more contemporary pieces,” she notes. “Many visitors and residents come from major metropolitan areas and want to see the same level of sophistication in the artwork as they see around them on a daily basis. This, in turn, has elevated the quality of the art shown in Park City.”
Soltesz Fine Art Tours are $50 per person for a two-hour art gallery tour and $75 for an artist studio tour or a Spiro Arts Tour. 435.901.0961, solteszfineart.com.