Musicians and Artists Following Their Dreams

The lure of a good song or the mesmerizing appeal of a painting can transfix us in a moment, hold our attention with wonder, sorrow or joy. Artists convey emotions, feelings and stories through their craft. Whether their platform be a stage or a canvas, they find a way to reach us, entertain us, inspire us. These three local artists utilize their talents to follow their dreams and make an impact on their community, and the Draper Visual Arts Foundation seeks to institute a Cultural Center which would give local talents a much-needed outlet for their works. 

Megan Taylor Parks, violinist for The National Parks Band

How did you get your start in music? Describe your journey.

When I was about 4 years old my family was living in Texas, and a little old lady in our neighborhood was a violin teacher. She randomly asked my parents if they would want her to start teaching me violin, and they accepted! I started taking private lessons and kept up with that all the way up and into college. All I had ever known was my classical technique until I started playing with The National Parks. Their previous violinist was stepping away from the band, and they were in need of a new violinist. I knew their last violinist as well as a few other people that were involved with the band at the time, and with that connection, we set up a time to get together to jam out. The jam session was basically my audition. I guess they liked me, though, because right after the first time playing together the lead singer, Brady Parks—who is now my husband—told me all the bands upcoming shows/practice schedule times to see if I would be available. That was three years ago, and I’ve been in The National Parks ever since!”

What do you enjoy about being involved in the community?

Utah is one of our favorite places to play shows. We have such a great support following here, and it’s amazing to meet so many incredible people through our music. Utah has always been so supportive, and we love being able to do as much as we can to give back to the community.

Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

My advice for aspiring artists would be to just keep pushing! Play a lot of shows and figure out what you want your sound to be—that will set you apart from everyone else.

Instagram: @thenatlparks

Jordan James Pinkston (aka Jordan James), acoustic, soul and pop musician

How did you get your start in music? Describe your journey.

I took piano lessons from when I was 6 years old, but I loved playing baseball and basketball. I played for Corner Canyon High School Basketball through my sophomore year. It was during that year that I took a class where I learned to produce music on the computer with programs like Logic Pro and Garageband. I began taking the lyrics that I had written over the years and produced the music for them. It was a very hard choice but I made the decision to quit basketball and follow my dream of making an album. 

Last summer, I contacted a producer, Mitch Davis, and started producing my self-recorded tracks on a professional level. After recording the first two professional tracks, I met with another producer/promoter, Greg Hansen, who encouraged me to start working on a video for my first single, an original song called ‘Change the World.’ It features over 20 residents from Draper, including Mayor Troy Walker, during the city’s service day project. This song has now become the theme song for the ‘I am Draper City Service Day.’ 

What are some ways you have given back to the community?

In my junior year, I wrote a song for a friend of mine with a disease called P.O.T.S. The song is called ‘Fighter,’ which was recorded live with Reel Sessions and published on my YouTube channel. I performed this song at a charity event on Valentine’s Day when a guy named Ivan Gonzalez heard it and asked me if I would be willing to share the song for a video of the children of the local Ronald McDonald House Charities. I agreed and was invited to attend the Gala Charity Dinner where their video featuring ‘Fighter’ would be shown. It inspired me to help this charity, so I decided to donate 50 percent of the profits from the single “Fighter” to this children’s charity known as the Ronald McDonald House Charities Intermountain. 

Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

My advice for aspiring artists or musicians is to focus on what really matters to you. Share your message with your talents. You may have to sacrifice other things, but for me, making music isn’t about getting attention or trying to prove something. It is my way of trying to influence others’ lives for the better. Music is my biggest motivator. It motivates me to be a better person, to help others, and it helps me personally.

Instagram: @jordanjamessinger

Wendy Chidester, professional artist, fine art and contemporary realism oil paintings

How did you get your start in the arts? Describe your journey.

I have always loved to paint ever since I can remember. I earned my Bachelors in Fine Art from the University of Utah. I did an internship at the Helper Art School under David Dornan, professional artist and former professor at the University of Utah. I am represented by several galleries throughout the United States.

In what ways have you become involved in the community? How do you give back?

I started an art program at our local elementary school including dance, music, drawing and painting, and art history. I teach private art lessons and workshops. I volunteer to judge community art shows both private and public. I have also given presentations to students interested in art as a profession at local high schools. It is rewarding to watch those students who I have taught take off and become professional artists themselves. I love to share my knowledge of art as well as art history with those who want to learn more about the craft. Sharing my appreciation of the arts with others hopefully helps others to have a greater appreciation of what art can do in beautifying the world around us. My hope is to open eyes to beauty that gets overlooked in our fast-paced world.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

Work hard and be willing to learn from professional artists and teachers. Continue to persevere in what you have a passion for. Never give up!

Instagram: @wendychidester

Jeanne Flint, trustee of the board, Draper Visual Arts Foundation

How was the DVAF founded? 

The DVAF was first established in 1993 to provide an organization to protect the valuable art collection of Reid and Willda Beck. In 1926, the town of Draper began an art collection under the direction of the newly appointed school principal, Reid Beck. Each year students, faculty, parents and neighbors worked together to raise funds to purchase at least one painting each year to be placed in the Draper Park School. One prized piece was purchased in 1951 from the world-renowned Norman Rockwell. When Mr. Rockwell heard that school kids were trying to purchase his painting of Ichabod Crane, he discounted the price to ease the purchase. He also gave the school permission to sell copies of this painting for future fundraising projects.

Does the DVAF have any upcoming events?

Each spring the DVAF sponsors a high school student art show. Talented seniors from Canyons School District compete for the grand prize of $1,000. Local art teachers and artists judge the show and award more prizes which range from $300 to $700 in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional categories. The artwork is displayed in the city hall lobby for all to enjoy during this show. 

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Draper Visual Arts Foundation, and the group, along with the Draper Chamber of Commerce, has decided to hold its first art show to showcase local artists. It will be held on Thursday, Sept. 6 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Day Barn next to the Draper Library. Please plan to attend this free showing and support our local artists. Light refreshments will be served.

What is on the horizon? Are there any ways for people to become involved or give back?

Our foundation is making a public appeal for financial support from those who call Draper home. We have started the groundwork for a Draper Cultural Center. This center is needed in our talented community, not only to provide a safe place to display our treasured art collection but a much-needed venue for the performing arts. A cultural center would provide space for plays, music recitals, art shows, business receptions, art classes and a home for the Draper Historical Society and Museum.

Instagram: @draper_visual_arts_foundation