Utah State Fair 2009

By Dennis Senior

This is an interesting story that involved the whole family and deserves to be preserved. Elaine had spent many hours working on our stake’s Days of 47 Parade Float.  It was a wonderment in itself and ended up taking 1st place in  the religeous category. The award they received was called the Spirit of Faith. Cheryl Spencer was on the float committee for our stake and kept a scrap book documentation of the progress on the float as it progressed through design and concept, mockup, and realization. Cheryl had asked if she could have the figures from the float to use in a display at the state fair. Cheryl then spoke to her contact Sparky Dibble, who is the coordinator for the State fair Creative Arts Building, about having Elaine create the display for the fair. Sparky knew Elaine as Elaine had worked for the fair the year previous, as an attendant, helping to take entries for display and then tending them during the fair. Well, Sparky called Elaine and asked her to create displays as a decor for the building and gave her a free hand to do as she wished.

Elaine had to come up with a display concept which would incorporate the theme  ”Out of the Ordinary”, for the “Creative Arts” building,  for the “State Fair”, (think farm animals),  and knowing that she was to use some of the figures from the float,  she looked at the characters that she had to work with and the image of the painting, “American Gothic” jumped into her mind. A short while later she had envisioned turning the figures into animals that pantomimed famous paintings and sculptures.  Our daughters, Michelle Hill, and Reanna Bleazard, jumped in at this point to consult and told her that the use of animals as sculptures in this manner would be “creepy”.  Elaine next came up with an idea to repaint the works of the great masters, using animals instead of the original human subjects. From then, they plowed forward with a gusto and finished well ahead of the alotted time. (A major shift from prior projects…. although they found another to fill the time!) Now what made Elaine think that she could redo these masterpieces? Oil and acrylic were new mediums to her. And Reanna, though quite creative and gifted with crayon and sharpee had never stepped beyond that! Michelle had dabbled a bit in painting. I have had a pastoral painting with the cutest little cow for years.  It hangs  in my office. But this was a whole new venture for her, too.

The next step was to obtain canvas and frames. Since they had no budget they bought various sized paintings with frames from the Deseret Industries. Some canvases they painted over, and some they created from a roll of muslin. They worked very hard to make each painting close to the size of the original.

As to the animal sculptures… Elaine did sculpt a head to go onto one of the figures and Michelle did the sewing for his tunic and hat. You will meet “Pig-caso” a little later.

Now when they thought they were going to be finished and early, Cheryl asked Elaine if she would be interested in building a barn to adorn the annual butter sculpture. This part of the project was requested and funded by the Utah Dairy Commission. The barn turned into a project that eventually involved Elaine, Michelle, Matt Hart (Kristy’s fiance), Kristy Senior, and eventually Gary Senior and J. R. Bleazard (Reanna’s husband) who both helped with the installation.

The last part of this tale involves Reanna’s two children, Carly and Randy. Both of them created entries for the fair which were pictures that played on the theme, “Out of the Ordinary”.

All of what follows is anything but….. ordinary.

The Birth of Venus was created by Bonicello. This was the first painting that Michelle thought of. The flowing blonde hair of the original reminded her of a beautiful horse’s mane. This is her work.

The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus

The Mona Lisa was painted by Elaine. It came up early in discussions of what to do.

Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa

Picasso painted this “Woman in Chair” and Reanna revised it with the cow motiff. This one will go in my office! (Hey Reanna said I could have it)

Picasso
Picasso

“The Scream” was painted by Michelle and was perhaps the most recognized at the fair by the younger crowd.

The Scream

The Scream

American Gothic was originally painted by Grant Wood and was revised by Elaine.

American Gothic

American Gothic

The classic Van Gogh where he severed his ear to impress his girlfriend (I guess chicks back then were into really weird stuff) was redone with the dog by Reanna.

Van Gogh

Van Gogh

Whistler’s Mother was originally entitled “An Arrangement in Gray and Black”. This was reworked by Michelle. Who can argue the use of a goose as a replacement for mother? (ie Mother Goose…)
Whistler's Mother

Whistler's Mother

Diego’s Paws were featured in Elaine’s revision of  M.C.Escher’s “Hands Drawing Hands”. (Diego is our family cat.)

Diego's Paws

Diego's Paws

Nighthawks was an original by Edward Hopper. This has been reworked to incorporate modern personalities such as James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis. Reanna’s version involves some animals.

Nighthawks

Nighthawks

Mrs. Siddon, Actress, was a Gainsborough. Michelle elegantly revised this with the image of a sheep.

Mrs. Siddon

Mrs. Siddon

Degas created “The Dance Examination” which was a work of ballet dancers. The girls decided that ballerinas looked like chickens. Degas used pastel on paper as a medium. Elaine reworked it with pastel colored pencil.

The Dance Examination

The Dance Examination

This was part of the display as you entered the building from the East  side. It was meant to imitate an art museum.

8 displayed

8 displayed

The “Pig-casso” was near the entry door from the West side. This display represented an artist at work in his studio. Visitors to the Creative Arts building  were invited, while they looked at entries in the building, to fill out a quiz , that would earn them a ribbon. The last question on the quiz inquired as to their favorite entry. Though not an entry, the Pig-casso won many votes.

"Pig-casso"

"Pig-casso"

Pig-casso from behind working on his picture. (Note that unlike Picasso, Pig-casso actually paints in the style of Monet.)

Pigcaso's Work

Pigcaso's Work

This clever piece was created for the Pig-casso display by Michelle. She chose to do a painting using Monet’s style, though this was never one of his paintings. (Way cool Michelle!)

In The Style of Monet

In The Style of Monet

The barn and silo were a commission from the Utah Dairy Association. Matt, Michelle, Kristy, and Elaine worked together to design the barn. Matt engineered the science that allowed it to be neatly broken down into 6 pieces for storage. Michelle and Elaine created the silo. The barn/silo will  be used every year. Matt did much of the construction, Michelle and Elaine the  painting.  J.R. helped with the last bit of trim and he, Gary, Michelle, and Elaine loaded it all into Barney (our van) and set it all up at the fair. The barn itself measures 12′x15′, and the silo is 12′ tall.

The Barn

The Barn

The Barn Crowd

The Barn Crowd

Although not created by our family, the butter sculpture is well worth mentioning. Each year since about the 1920’s butter sculptures have been a tradition in many state fairs. The butter for the Utah State Fair is donated by Meadow Gold. The sculpture is kept behind glass because it needs to stay chilled. Tragically this year the thermostat got bumped some how and the original sculpture lost some of its rigidity and fell over! The artists had to return and spend two frantic days rebuilding it! Note, it is not solid butter but is built over a mesh frame.

The Butter Sculpture

The Butter Sculpture

Carly’s fair entry was titled “Farm Animals Out of Ordinary”. She earned the blue ribbon for first place in her category! Notice that it all starts with the cow….

Carly's Blue Ribbon

Carly's Blue Ribbon

Randy envisioned and created this work called “It’s Smore Out of the Ordinary”. The picture features the Smore family (chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow)  who are making s’mores. Randy also won a blue ribbon for 1st place in her category.

Randy's Blue Ribbon

Randy's Blue Ribbon