“There’s no reason Park City can’t become an arts colony!” proclaimed Alan Crooks, director of the Kimball Art Center upon its opening in an old Park Avenue car dealership and garage renovated by Bill Kimball in 1976. Forty-five years later, as plans for a five-acre arts and culture district anchored by a 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Kimball Art Center move closer to fruition, Crooks’s enthusiastic words seem downright prophetic. And though the Kimball is now in its second temporary home after leaving that former garage in 2015, the mission established by its founding namesake more than four decades ago, to “provide the opportunity for each person to expand his interest in the arts,” not only lives on, but is both deepening and expanding.
A new and for-now location
“In a perfect world,” says Aldy Milliken, executive director of the Kimball Art Center since June 2020, “we would have moved directly here from Park Avenue. But arts organizations, by definition, are nomadic.” Though the Kimball’s current residency at 1251 Kearns Boulevard—on a block known as “The Yard”—will last just five years while its permanent home is being built just a few hundred feet to the east in the arts and culture district (imaginepcarts.org), nothing about its latest digs feels temporary.
The 9,000-square-foot former warehouse underwent an extensive renovation, adding four beautiful galleries with 15-foot-high ceilings and museum-quality flooring and lighting, a pottery studio, indoor and outdoor classroom areas, and staff offices. Plans are in the works to add an on-site café as well. Admission to the center’s galleries is free, but donations are encouraged. Operating hours are Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. kimballartcenter.org
A mix of amped-up and familiar exhibits
The Kimball opened its new location at The Yard with When Evening Has Passed and Tomorrow Comes (on display through mid-June 2021), a mind-blowing collection of work from four rising artists curated at a caliber you’d expect from The Whitney or Denver Art Museum, rather than a small mountain-town art center. “When Evening Has Passed ... is the first exhibit we presented in more than a year,” says Nancy Stoaks, Kimball Art Center curator. “We felt strongly that our first exhibit in the new space was a powerful opportunity to reflect on what we want the future of the Kimball to look like.”
Part of that future, Stoaks affirms, is continuing to present beloved community-based exhibitions and events like the Wasatch Back Student Art Show (opening June 26) and the Monster Drawing Rally (July 10), a timed exhibition and auction featuring local artists that serves as a fundraiser for both the Kimball Art Center and the Park City Arts Council. But true to the tone set by When Evening Has Passed ..., on June 25 the Kimball will open an exhibition highlighting two of the country’s foremost contemporary textile artists: El Paso–based Adrian Esparza, who deconstructs serapes to create geometric thread installations, and Marie Watt, a citizen of New York State’s Seneca Nation of Indians, known for her towering folded blanket installations.
“This new space allows us to tell more-nuanced stories and make a deeper exploration,” Stoaks says. A second exhibition, also opening on June 25, will feature Jorge Rojas, the Kimball’s summer 2021 artist-in-residence. As in the past, outreach and events will surround each exhibition, including opening-night receptions, by-request guided tours, and the Kimball Art Center Book Club. kimballartcenter.org/exhibitions
Classes, workshops, summer camps, and studio time
Perhaps you’d like to try your hand at wheel throwing. Or maybe plein air painting is more your jam. Do you have a teen with a budding talent for jewelry making, clay animation, or photography? Or maybe you’re just looking to spend an hour or two in a well-equipped, focus-friendly space with your palette and brush. In the purest example of how the Kimball Art Center connects people with art, this summer it has reinstated its robust curriculum of classes, summer camps, one-off classes, and studio time for tots, kids, teens, and adults. kimballartcenter.org/art-classes
The live return of the Park City Kimball Arts Festival
After a pandemic-caused hiatus last summer, the nationally renowned Park City Kimball Arts Festival makes its live return in (almost) its full glory from August 6 to 8, 2021. To help maintain social distancing, the number of artist booths lining Main Street will be slightly reduced, and additional safety strategies, including mandatory mask-wearing and timed entry, are also likely. But organizers are committed to maintaining the event’s well-established backbone: a rich offering of high-quality, juried art in mediums ranging from ceramics, drawing, glass, and jewelry to metalwork, painting, photography, and sculpture. Expect also the return of the festival’s vibrant peripheral energy with live music, gourmet food and drink, kids activities, and more. Daily admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6–17. Age 5 and under are admitted for free. parkcitykimballartsfestival.org