Having unique skills will often land you in unique places. Sometimes, in places you never expected. Pursuing a Fine Arts degree at the University of Utah, Jonnie Parker Hartman honed her skills in traditional ink-on-paper works and likely never imagined she would find her creative niche wielding a saw and glue gun along with her paints.
“I have more tools than my husband does,” says Hartman, a Utah native who currently lives in Park City. As a student, Hartman says she was introduced to sculpture, basic carpentry, and the world of three dimensional art works. A post-college job with retailer Anthropologie found her putting her art and her building skills to work on the store’s window displays.
“I loved the impact it had on people and I started getting more comfortable with it and I’ve never really looked back,” said Hartman.
Over the years she has produced three dimensional works for multiple clients including a Comic Con booth display for the Nickelodeon channel. While Hartman does professional photography and creates public art works around the region, one featured outside Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, she has made a niche for herself in the vanishing art of handcrafted window displays. For the past five years, she’s has had a regular gig, so-to-speak, creating the Christmas window displays for the shops at the Grand America Hotel.
Designing and building the displays each year means the holidays start early for Hartman.
“They (managers at the Grand America) usually start calling me around March and we start working out a theme,” she said.
“There are things that are printed, but they are hand-illustrated by me first,” said Hartman who turns to local printer Ferrari Color to print the oversize designs that start in her notebook or computer. “We don’t just buy or find things that are ready-made and put them in. Someone took the time to paint or sew or build everything people are seeing.”
Handcrafting every item in a display can be a challenge in many different ways. While working on displays for another Little America property in Sun Valley, Idaho, Hartman said she had to practically transport her whole workshop and materials.
“There are not many hardware stores or places to buy supplies in Sun Valley. You can’t just run to Home Depot. The paint and hardware stores there are all very high-end. I had to have anything I might need packed in my car or shipped.”
At present, Hartman is finalizing designs for this year’s Christmas windows at the Grand America, which will be accompanied by a book being illustrated by another artist.
“I’m working with the illustrator to work on corresponding things in the windows,” said Hartman. “The book is going to feature the Little America’s penguin mascot, Maurice, and he’s traveling around the world so the windows will feature holiday traditions and cultures from around the world.”
The Grand America’s holiday windows typically open shortly after Thanksgiving, and more information can be found at the hotel’s website.
Jonnie Parker Hartman: jonniehartmanart.blogspot.com/
Grand America Hotel: www.grandamerica.com