Art Around The Square – non-profit for the fine arts - Midway, Utah, USA
"Artists need four things to flourish; 1), education and training, 2), a place to work with materials to produce their art form, 3), encouragement in a friendly art community with like-minded creatives, and of course 4), income, which is an essential reward and motivator in any profession." - S. Gertsch, MAA founder and past president
Centuries ago, governments and the established church funded artists in western Europe. Later wealthy private patrons kept the artists alive and functioning. It is a fact that we enjoy a great cultural heritage because of them. In our day, at least in the USA, government grants and corporate sponsors, as well as many generous private citizens and community businesses provide much of the needed resources for artists and art events to thrive.
And ultimately individual buyers and collectors form a tremendous base for the arts.
Every art purchase, every competition prize, every ticket sold and every donation to events like Art Around The Square has personal as well as far reaching value to our society.
In the case of ArtAroundTheSquare there is a history that weaves through 18 years of art events and two organizations that bring us to this wonderful Midway Utah Town Square, for the 4th of July festival, plus the first inaugural Midway Christmas Dance and Social on December 16, 2023.
It all started with inquiries and invitations in 2002 when curious local artists gathered at the home of Midway artist and art teacher, Susette Gertsch. One warm summer day on the Gertsch front porch they formed the Midway Art Association with its first officers. When the new MAA president stepped down a few months later to focus on art events out of state, Susette was elected to become the association’s president and served for the next 8 years. During that time the MAA officers organized monthly art meetings, art workshops and the first MAA art shows.
The first MAA art show was hosted by artist, Sherrie Oman’s at Edelweiss Gallery on Main Street. Sadly, her husband David, a fine artist himself, passed away only 2 weeks prior to the opening date, but Sherrie insisted that the MAA carry on as planned, because of his wishes. That support was the beginning of community support for the fine visual arts, and a the special MAA organization that thrives to this day. We are indeed grateful for Dave and Sherrie and other fine people like them.
In 2005 the first Wasatch Plein air Paradise Event (WPAP) was innovated with Susette as chair, and has continued to thrive these many years. It has only been cancelled once and that was because of the 2020 worldwide pandemic. The WPAP and the fall art retreat, now called Plein Air Utah, are annual signature events continue to grow under new MAA leadership as Heber valley’s population has blossomed.
In addition to The WPAP and PAU events, Susette organized additional private art events such as “Splash” in 2014, and “Midway Moomba” in 2019. Moomba (meaning “Let’s get together and have fun!”) was an 8-part venue held during Pioneer week, with adult and kids' art workshops, a youth concert, a chalk art competition on the Midway ice-skating rink, an art exhibit, an evening of musical and theatrical performances by local talent, a Saturday family bike parade and a community Contra Dance in the town hall. These public activities were designed to include all ages of people in our area to bring out local talent while generating greater cultural awareness and participation in the fine arts of Midway and Heber Valley.
In 2021 to make sure the arts would flourish, despite worldwide COVID issues that were far from resolved, and considering the potential of not being able to hold indoor events if the pandemic were to escalate, Midway Moomba was rebranded into the present Art Around The Square festival with art booths inside as well as outside on town square. The Community Center became the indoor venue, and the grassy southwest lawns were the location for the outdoor venue. Artists, photographers, sculptors and artisans in jewelry and other art forms created a fine art festival atmosphere as the MAA continued to host their popular Wasatch Plein air Paradise activities. Together these events have increased tourism, a public following, and have created much needed income and art opportunities for all levels of amateur, emerging, and professional artists.
2022 was another big year for the AATS festival with some aspects being held over three separate holiday weekends: Memorial Weekend, the Fourth of July, and the 24th of July. New on the scene came colorful, costumed characters, namely Aunt Hattie and Wild Child, (Susette and daughter Sally), who sponsored a free hat creation crafts activity for all ages.
2023, the focus was on 47 outdoor and indoor art and vendor booths. First-time activities were added at the community center, including a family and friends’ day at Aunt Hattie’s Art Workshop, plus a special inspirational movie for all ages titled Whimsy!. The film was shown to the public for free in a delightful theatrical setting on the Community Center stage. Also, a first-time silent auction plus kids’ crafts and face painting activities helped raise much needed funds for Charitable Acts Theater on July 4, with ticket sales being entirely donated to the CAT.
As a people, and a community, we are benefited and enriched by these wonderful activities. In fact, the strength of a community's fine arts and culture is often considered a signal of that community’s over-all health and well-being. And in that sense we can say that Midway and Heber valley as a who is a very healthy place to live.
Art Around The Square strives to support the higher of business and artistic values while including all levels of artists. It brings greater awareness and enrichment of the fine visual arts to all ages of our community.
If you feel inspired to volunteer and join our AATS staff to assist tat the art festival or the Christmas dance, or if you wish to offer funds for this wonderful newly formed non-profit organization, please contact us at ArtAroundTheSquare@icloud.com - all donations to Art Around the Square will be tax deductible.