Painter Gail Denton works outdoors during the 2018 Red Rock Arts Festival’s plein air events. The festival will again welcome regional artists to Moab streets from Oct. 5 to 12. [Photo by Liz Holland, courtesy of the MARC]

“The Red Rock Arts Festival started with plein air painting, and now we’re expanding to include all different types of art as well,” said Makeda Barkley, assistant director of the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC).

The festival began as Plein Air Moab, an event exclusively for painters and artists to create works outdoors. The festival became part of the MARC’s programming three years ago, according to Barkley, complete with a name-change and a diverse schedule of events.

Moab artist Page Holland has been involved since the first plein air event.

“It’s kind of morphed into something bigger, which I think was always the hope,” said Holland. Visitors can watch local and regional artists at work when they set up their easels for the week-long plein air art competition from Oct. 5 to Oct. 12, when the festival culminates in a street party complete with art workshops, yoga classes, and live music.

How do the plein air painters feel about the new and expanded festival?

“I try to do as much of the paint-outs and gatherings as much as possible,” Holland said, “there’s more energy and more people involved.”

Not only that, but Holland notes that in the last few years, traffic into the MARC to see the plein air paintings has increased due to the street festival.

The MARC will display more than 500 plein air paintings created during the festival – all of which will be for sale. The main awards ceremony will happen Saturday, Oct. 12, at 10:30 a.m.

“This event brings in hundreds of professional artists every year,” said Holland. “What the festival has done is to wrap the plein air work within a broader art event.”

On Saturday, Oct. 12, the festival’s street fest will fill the roadway outside the MARC with local and regional artisans, kids activities and live music.

The day kicks off at noon with live music by local group Quicksand Soup, an alternative bluegrass band led by songwriter and musician Sand Sheff. Other musical groups performing throughout the day include Funky Mother Clusters, who play “funky psychedelia for dancing,” and Nickle and Rose, playing traditional music with elements of West African music and blues.

Festivalgoers might want to stay for dinner as there will be food trucks serving burgers, vegan options, Navajo tacos and baked goods. Beer and cocktails will be for sale, as well – another new aspect of this year’s fest.

“The artists, the vendors, the street fair: this festival really helps put the focus on Moab as an arts destination with something a little different to offer,” Holland said.