Every fall, the organization Moab ArTTrails chooses around 10 new sculptures, from a slew of submissions, to be installed for one year around town—the newest batch will be installed and unveiled during an “art stroll” on Saturday, Sept. 24, and the organization will also reveal which sculpture from last year’s exhibition will be bought for permanent installation. 

“It’s becoming known throughout the artistic community as a good show,” said Christy Williams-Dunton, a co-founder of the ArTTrails organization. There was a large range of submissions this year, she said, drawing local artists as well as artists from Los Angeles, British Columbia, and Zimbabwe. 

Williams-Dunton and co-founder Michael Dunton never pick a theme that artists have to stick to, but said that one always seems to emerge. Last year, Williams-Dunton said, many artists depicted circles and trees as symbols of unity and hope. This year, most of the submissions focused on themes of water and femininity.

“The things that people are thinking about, and feeling about, our current time shows up in the work somehow,” Williams-Dunton said.  “And with large-scale outdoor sculptures, these are long-term projects—these aren’t just one-offs. It can take some people more than a year to do a large work. So a lot of them have happened out of a time of deep introspection: artists are thinking about big ideas … the water that we all share, the feminine spirit that is core to us.” 

The sculptures will be installed by the artists on Saturday, Sept. 24; following the installation, there will be an art stroll where participants can tour each new sculpture and chat with the artists. The sculpture that will be bought for permanent installation will also be unveiled: Williams-Dunton said this year saw huge community engagement in votes for “the keeper” sculpture. 

Another thing that was on Williams-Dunton’s mind this year: the sturdiness of outdoor sculpture. During the last flood event on Aug. 20, the very first sculpture bought and installed for the permanent collection in 2017 was swept away by floodwaters and damaged. “Hatch” by Peter Hazel was installed by the bridge on 300 South and depicts two trout. It was beloved by the community, Williams-Dunton said, and luckily the damage can be fixed. Still, it had members of the ArTTrails organization thinking about long-term art planning. 

“Hatch” is currently in the backyard of the MARC. [Maggie McGuire/Moab Sun News]

“Works of art that are sturdy [are] really important criteria that we always had—but the last couple of years have proved it’s really important for a bunch of reasons,” she said. 

Once the new sculptures are installed, the sculptures from the previous year will be uninstalled by their artists. 

“I think of it like a healthy autumn ritual of rotating the crop,” Williams-Dunton said. “The artists will take those [uninstalled] works to other rotating art shows with our true thanks for making the place more beautiful for that year, and we will celebrate them and the new artists at this event on the 24th.” 

The art stroll will take place on Saturday, Sept. 24, starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center.