Unpacking the Festival

The Mormon Arts Center Festival ended Saturday afternoon, July 1, 2017. I don’t really know how best to describe the events of those four days (five, if you could the exhibition set up). Anybody who was there has their own impressions, so I can only speak for myself. And anybody who wasn’t there can experience it through videos that are now beginning to appear on our YouTube channel. (The entire Festival was recorded.)

I’ll start at the end.  Sunday morning around 5:00 a.m., I awoke to S.O.S. emails that the exhibition walls were still up at the Riverside Church. Our contract stated that they had to be down by 8:00 a.m. or we would incur a severe penalty. Unable to get the contractor responsible on the phone, or anybody else, I decided to rush up to Riverside and see what was going on.

Sure enough, there was the empty exhibition space, the art packed up and gone, but the 8′ x 4′ panels, maybe 30 of them, still standing like an abandoned, roofless apartment. I felt I had no choice but to take it down myself. I borrowed a box cutter, a screwdriver, a pair of pliers, and a ladder, and I began. True, the panels were heavy, I’m not very strong, and I have a couple of herniated discs in my back, but I began anyway.

Richard arrived a bit later. He lives close by, and he steadied me in every sense as I dismantled the exhibition. As the hands of the clock moved closer to our deadline, Allyson Chard, her husband, and daughter arrived to help take down the last few panels with us. With the last panel down, I rushed out because I had some church responsibilities of my own at Lincoln Square. On my way out of the church, I looked at the clock. We finished with 75 seconds to spare.

This little sweaty tale serves as a metaphor, too. For a long time I have wanted somebody to tackle Mormon Arts seriously and studiously. I would have been perfectly happy to let some else do it because I felt inadequate. When that didn’t materialize, I threw up my hands and just tried to do it myself. It was hard. There were bruises. But over time, I found a rhythm.

Then Richard came along. With a vision, calm and ambitious, he guided me to bigger thinking. Finally, Allyson arrived with an organizational mind and skill set that found partners and volunteers to do things that we couldn’t have handled ourselves.

Goals were met. It was beautiful. And we left exhausted, and satisfied, and hungry.

Glen Nelson