As part of their Pioneer Day Celebrations, Mapleton City unveiled a puzzle of their city, created by Saratoga Springs artist, Andy Ellis.
Andy attended BYU as a pre-dental major, but soon decided he really enjoyed the visual arts. He went to the San Francisco Academy of Art, and graduated in 2013. He returned to Utah, and began working with Eric Dawdle, illustrating colorful folk art puzzles of famous and not-so-famous cities throughout the USA, and the world. Andy has worked there for the past ten years.
The Artist’s Group there included three artists who all created the puzzles. The Dowdle company took their art a step further than the early American folk art work of Charles Wysacki, going into greater detail and creating more of a three-dimensional look, which the viewing public has genuinely seemed to love.
“It’s a real pleasure to be invited to capture an entire city in a work of art,” Andy said, as he signed autographs on the puzzle he created for the City of Mapleton. “We all have our own stories and favorite memories from growing up. I try to capture the spirit of a place in the buildings and faces I design into my puzzles.”
Andy’s young daughter, Addie, was eager to show where she stood in the Mapleton puzzle poster, holding sparklers and wearing a strawberry dress. Several members of the city council also posed and were included as various characters. One man mentioned meetings of his Boy Scout troop in The White Church, and both he and the Church are now represented there. Andy listened to many stories from the history of Mapleton, and had fun depicting them in vivid colors. He pointed to one family, who had lost a son after a brief illness. The little boy and his family will be there, front and center, remembered forever in the puzzle.
Andy and two of his fellow artists all worked with Eric Dowdle, who began his career going door to door offering to paint folk art designs of people’s homes. He went from a commission for eight original paintings of Salt Lake City landmarks in the 1990s, to over 400 works of art he and other artists generated as puzzles, selling over 30 million of them. Dowdle is also known for his television program, Painting The Town. He also started an endowment to raise funds for various art programs in Utah.
Andy Ellis, together with longtime artists Bruce Martin of Spanish Fork, and James Poai of Mapleton, have spun off Dowdle Folk Art. They make puzzles for cities of any size who commission artists to recreate their towns. They are open to new ventures if anyone is interested in challenging them with new vistas for their kaleidoscopic artwork. They can be reached through Wendy Hemingway, VP of Licensing and Partnerships. email@example.com and their website is dowdlefolkart.com
Submitted by Kjirstin Youngberg