Art enthusiasts visit Art in the Park. Photo by Carlos Vargas

Art in the Park started seven years ago under the name of Idyllwild 2nd Saturday. The Idyllwild Community Center area was the venue for the eight original artists to show their artwork. Later, founders Kim and Scott Finnell decided it would be more advantageous to have the show around major holidays and decided to call it “Art in the Park.” The Finnells have seen their project grow from the eight original artists to 35 artists.
When plans started to develop for the community center, Jay Johnson, who owns the property across the street on Highway 243, offered to lease his land to support the artists. In 2018, it was decided to have the Art in the Park all weekend. Previously, it had only been on Saturdays. Many of the restaurateurs told Scott that Sunday was often their biggest day.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 3 to 4, 29 artists will show their artwork including ceramics, paintings, photography, glass, woodworking, and mixed media. Kim, a retired school teacher and a big supporter of the arts, organizes the venue along with her husband Scott, a well-known glass artist in the area. Live music will be provided by local entertainer, Miles Thomas. Jim Halfpenny, a singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas, performs at the last show of the season Aug. 31 to Sept 1.
Kim talked about the benefits provided by Idyllwild in the Park, a nonprofit organization. “First it’s a beautiful outdoor setting where artists can show and sell their work. Second, it brings business up the hill. We only have art, no products or food, so visitors are referred to businesses in town. In return, businesses tell folks about Art in the Park. There are definite benefits when everyone works together.”
Early this year, Kim invited a busload of 55 people to Art in the Park. She enlisted the help of Art Alliance of Idyllwild Courtyard Gallery and Visitor Center Coordinator, Cynthia Grady, to ask businesses to fill goodie bags for the visitors.

Art in the Park showcases Idyllwild artists. Photo by Carlos Vargas

“This was a big hit,” Kim said excitedly. “They not only went to a free art show but shopped in Idyllwild. Still, the visitors had another request and that was to meet Mayor Max. I immediately got on the phone to Phyllis Mueller, the Mayor’s chief of staff, and soon he was shaking hands with the visitors.” Kim hopes to bring more buses up for the five shows next season and will make sure to get on Mayor Max’s schedule.
All the artists’ work is juried and is unique, creative and original. Don Dietz, glass artist and summer resident, explains the advantages of showing his work at the Art in the Park. “It is a beautiful relaxed setting in nature and everyone is friendly. I enjoy talking to those who visit my booth not only about my art but referring them to other artists and letting them know what Idyllwild offers. I also have the opportunity to show more of my work instead of being confined to a few pieces in a gallery. The cost is very little to show, and I can collaborate with other artists, sharing ideas and techniques.”
For artists interested in filling out an Art in the Park application, visit The Art in the Park website also lists all of the galleries, restaurants, inns, and shops in Idyllwild benefiting not only the artists’ community but the Idyllwild community too.