Jason Sacran, “Beaver Lake Revisited,” 2017, oil, 22 x 28 inches (Best in Show)

Fine Art Connoisseur was busy last week in Utah during events for the American Impressionist Society (AIS) Annual Exhibition. What’s more, while Publisher Eric Rhoads and Editor-in-Chief Peter Trippi were leading a group of collectors through museums and galleries in Russia last week, we also hosted a curator-led tour through the Springville Museum with several acclaimed artists.

John Burton, Ryan Brown, Olga Krimon, Josh Clare, Bryan Mark Taylor, and West Coast Editor Vanessa Rothe were among the attendees of a curator-led tour at the Springville Museum last week. The group of artists — who revere the large-scale Soviet Impressionist works — were greeted by Dr. Vern G. Swanson, Director Emeritus at the Springville Museum, and curator Ellie Sands. The group discussed the historical significance of painting larger figurative works as well as the history of Russia in the early 20th century and how art played a major role in everyday life for the people.

Artists with Dr. Vern G. Swanson and staff at the Springville Museum
Dr. Vern G. Swanson, Director Emeritus of the Springville Museum
Dr. Vern G. Swanson points out some historical notes on a large Soviet Impressionist work
Dr. Vern G. Swanson discusses the later period of Soviet Impressionism

The Springville Museum boasts the largest Soviet realist art collection on the West Coast and has been a longtime draw for artists and collectors alike. The works collected highlight how the Soviets combined realism and Impressionism, circa 1930 to 1980. Colorful, vibrant portraits, characters in the fields, and the everyday working class are celebrated in these fine works along with important state and political events — all captured and immortalized by union artists.

Example of a character study

After the tour, Fine Art Connoisseur was off to sponsor the official museum lecture and tour through the “Saints at Devils Gate: Landscapes Along the Mormon Trail” large-scale exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah. Artists John Burton, Josh Clare, Bryan Mark Taylor, and Rothe presented a lecture on what it took to paint on location and create such large-scale paintings. Often, these paintings are 50 x 35 inches, and the presenters discussed how artists framed and transported them. The works are mostly landscape, and the exhibition continued through October 3. This tour was also in conjunction with the educational events for the American Impressionist Society annual exhibition.

Example of a character study

For more information, visit https://history.lds.org/section/museum?lang=eng

Finally, the group ascended the hills to Park City for the American Impressionist Society 18th Annual National Juried Exhibition, held at Montgomery Lee Gallery. The exhibition was well attended, with over 100 artists and visitors on hand. More than 175 works were on display, juried by acclaimed artist Albert Handell. Over 30 awards and sponsored gifts, worth more than $69,000, were given out during the event.

(Left to right) John Burton, Bryan Mark Taylor, Vanessa Rothe, and Josh Clare give a presentation on the “Saints at Devils Gate” exhibition and how this large-scale museum collection came together for the American Impressionist Society Annual Exhibition. This tour and lecture event was officially Sponsored by Fine Art Connoisseur.
Views from the “Saints at Devils Gate” exhibition
Views from the “Saints at Devils Gate” exhibition

Rothe then led an educational panel with Olga Krimon, Howard Friedland, Debra Joy Groesser, Shanna Kunz, and John Burton surrounding the business of being a fine artist, how to teach a workshop, in-depth color choices, social media, networking, and marketing. Events continued with group demonstrations and paint-outs around Park City. The exhibition is available to view online at www.americanimpressionistsociety.org and runs through October 29.

Mary Qian, “George,” 2017, oil, 19 x 16 inches (Second Place)
Elizabeth Robbins, “Springtime,” 2017, oil, 16 x 20 inches (Third Place)
(left to right) AIS leaders at Montgomery Lee Gallery Park City Utah. Don Groesser (AIS treasurer) Debra Joy Groesser (AIS president), Albert Handell (AIS judge and master artist), Cheryl St John, (AIS vice president), and Vanessa Rothe (AIS educational director)

Jason Sacran was the Best of Show winner for his gorgeous painting “Beaver Lake Revisited,” which earned the artist $12,000 cash. Mary Qian’s “George” was the Second Place winner — an honor that came with $8,000 cash. Elizabeth Robbins’ lush still life “Springtime” was the $4,000 Third Place winner, while “Point Lobos Mist” by John Burton was the Artists’ Choice winner.

John Burton, “Point Lobos Mist,” 2017, oil, 12 x 24 inches (Artists’ Choice)

Fine Art Connoisseur and PleinAir magazines also sponsored awards that came with a full-page advertisement in the publication, worth $4,000. Kelli Folsom’s “I See Your Face in Every Flower” took the Fine Art Connoisseur Award of Excellence, while Thomas Jefferson Kitts earned the PleinAir Magazine Award of Excellence for “The Mama Lu Under Repair.”

(left to right) AIS Judge Albert Handell, Kelli Folsom, and Vanessa Rothe

Dave Santillanes’ “The Brook” won the William Schultz Memorial Award; Marianne Miller’s “June Siesta” took the Marjorie L. Bradley Memorial Associate Member Award; Michele Usibelli’s “Winter Escape” won the Dickinson Signature Member Award; Kevin Macpherson’s “The Master Calligrapher” earned the Ney Founders Award for Masters; James Crandall’s “Lady with a Bicycle” took the President’s Choice Award; Vianna Szabo’s “Pause” won the Award of Excellence for Pastels; Ron Stocke’s “Bermondsey London” took the Award of Excellence for Watermedia; Kenn Backhaus’ “Monarchs and Queen Anne’s Lace” won the Southwest Art Magazine Master Award of Excellence; Dawn Whitelaw’s “A Change Over” earned the American Art Collector Master Award of Excellence; Aimee Erickson’s “The Writer” won the Southwest Art Magazine Award of Excellence; and Jeffrey Watts’ “Ode to Spring” took the American Art Collector Award of Excellence.

To learn more, visit the American Impressionist Society.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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