The people behind the art

People this year won’t be disappointed with Summerfest as more and more artists come from all over the nation to share their work with Cache Valley. Many are awed by the vast array of colorful paintings and jewelry, and the photographers and potters stand by to answer questions about their work. But this year features some less-than-orthodox vendors. One booth in particular left everyone smiling. Sculptures made out of….spoons? That’s what local artist Judson Jennings is selling. His foot-tall figurines he calls ‘silverware guys’ were started as a joke with some old, discarded forks and spoons. “My mother-in-law was throwing out some silverware,” says Jennings, “so I thought I’d do something with it.” A welder by trade, Jennings presented his first creation to his father. “He thought it was hilarious,” he explains with a grin. With that positive reaction in mind, Jennings decided to create Forked Up Art and share his figurines with the world. Now, eight months later, the University of Utah student’s work has gone global, making a splash in the Internet world. Rave reviews for his salt and pepper shaker and electronic device holding figurines pour in daily and people love his more whimsical pieces, such as the golfing silverware guy. This being his first year at Summerfest, he is optimistic that the residents of Cache Valley will be drawn to his work. “I think it’s just the unique nature of it and the creativity that went into it,” Jennings said. “As far as a Christmas gift or even a table top set, you’re not going to find anything like it.”Relatively new to the art world, Jennings heard about the fair from another artist friend. He feels lucky to have been accepted into Summerfest, a juried show with high standards of quality. “They [the Summerfest committee] were very surprised by my work,” he said, “It actually was questionable about the name being ‘Forked Up Art’ as it’s a little, what they call, risqué. But,” says Jennings, “they allowed me to come.” He makes many things under the Forked Up Art brand but it is the silverware guys that have proven to be most popular. Each figurine is made with anywhere from five to 10 utensils, dominantly forks and spoons as knives prove to be too hazardous. With ever-growing demand, he has had to find innovative and cheaper ways to get his art supplies. “As of five days ago I am a wholesale representative of silverware,” Jennings said. “I am running more silverware out of my little art boutique than most restaurant supply places in the valley.”But Judson Jennings is not the only one offering unique and one-of-a-kind wares. Tuli Fisher of Bozeman, Montana has returned to Summerfest for his sophomore year of Cache Valley vending. “I did pretty well last year,” says Fisher. “I think I would have done better had it not rained on Saturday but even with the rain I did pretty well.” With sunny forecasts for the rest of the weekend he has nothing to fear. Fisher specializes in hand tools, specifically garden tools which he has been making and selling at art fairs for the past five years. “It started with a couple of farmers asking me to repair and make my hand tools for them,” Fisher says. “Now I do it for a living.”Everything about Fisher’s tools scream art. He shapes the metal himself with a hammer and anvil and the walnut and hickory handles are hand carved with care. “All my joinery work is done with rivets so nothing is welded,” says Fisher. Any one of his pieces could easily be displayed on a fireplace mantel, but the functionality is definitely a big selling point for those looking for a new gardening tool. With father’s day right around the corner he hopes people will look to him for the perfect gift. “Being a new father myself I’m super excited about it,” Fisher said, “so I’m hoping that will increase my sales.”Other new artists to Summerfest include Tori Anderson and Dennis Brady. Anderson sells zipper accessories for girls and women of all ages. With necklaces, headbands, rings, and bangles, she shapes the broken zippers into flowers to create fun items that aren’t only fashionable but stand apart. Anderson, who has always been artistically inclined, found inspiration while out shopping. “I actually saw [zipper flowers] in a department store on shoes,” Anderson said. “So I took them from feet and put them on top of people’s heads.” Being a mom and holding a part time job can be difficult, especially when trying to find time to make her creations. But she loves it, she says, and that’s what keeps her crafting. A resident of Logan, she’s found success at other shows and hopes her luck will not change. Dennis Brady, on the other hand, has not always had such good fortunes. A self-proclaimed expert on art shows who produces his own podcasts on the subject, he has found people in Utah too conservative to truly appreciate his art. In recent years, however, that notion has changed as he’s had some of his largest sales at Salt Lake City art shows. Through word of mouth and some research, he comes to Summerfest with a 95% chance he’ll do well. “I choose to surround myself with appreciative patrons,” Brady says, “people I know through my research that the community would be accepting of this type of art work.” His style of art is called ‘Fractuals,’ short for fractual geometry. Plugging binary codes and mathematical equations into his computer he has found a way to create circles, spirals, shapes, and lines that his pieces consist of. You would think someone that uses math so much would be good at it, but Brady says it was actually one of his worst subjects in high school. “All of my algebra and geometry classes never let me discover the passion that would correlate to my life which was going to be arts,” says Brady. “Had I had a math teacher hang a picture like this on my walls and explain to me that through these terms they were making me memorize to take tests on Fridays I could create art like this, it would have been a whole different reason to start studying at a much earlier age.”He discovered the correlation of math, art, and technology in the early 1970s after he fell in love with a ground-breaking invention of that era: the computer. Since then, he’s been busy creating his digital art long before the term was even coined and Photoshop was even thought of. He very well could be called a pioneer. “I don’t like to use that term,” he replies modestly, “but I was definitely one of the first originators of this style of artwork.”With over 30,000 art shows to choose from nationwide, 170 of the finest artists have decided to share their art with Logan. What is it about Summerfest that draws in the artists? Marianne Sidwell, Summerfest Executive Director, believes that not only is it the high quality of the event and the community itself, but also the reputation the name Summerfest carries. “A lot of artists that come share with their friends and their friends call and say ‘so and so’s been there and we really want to try it out’,” Sidwell says. And with more then 3/4 of the vendors returning artists, it goes to show, as Sidwell says, “It’s just an all around great event.”

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