By Laura Jackson
One of the highest honors for an American artist is to be inducted into the U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies (AIE). Established by President John F. Kennedy over five decades ago, AIE has played an integral role in U.S. public diplomacy worldwide, promoting cross-cultural exchange and dynamic artist dialogue through the visual arts. Fostering diplomacy as well as friendship by sharing some of the best in American art, notable AIE artists include Andy Warhol, Maya Lin and Ansel Adams.
Park City boasts its own AIE artist, Bret Webster. This inspired photographer and native Utahn has a gallery on Main Street in the Historic District (312 Main Street). In addition to having his photographs displayed in embassies, he has been invited overseas by the U.S. State Department on several extended cultural exchanges to give lectures, teach workshops, and conduct philosophic discussions on the shared beauty found in nature across the world and his native Utah.
Earlier this year, Webster was invited by Secretary of State John Kerry to attend a special luncheon in Washington, D.C. honoring AIE artists’ contributions to international diplomacy through the venue of American art. According to Secretary Kerry, “Art in Embassies cultivates relationships that transcend boundaries, building trust, mutual respect and understanding among peoples.
It is a fulcrum of America’s global leadership as we continue to work for freedom, human rights and peace around the world.”
Webster’s photographs can currently be seen in Kuwait, Tunisia, North Africa and Mauritania, West Africa. Although his work hangs in embassies and museums around the globe, nowhere is it more prominently displayed than here in his Park City gallery. From spectacular images of a shooting star in the desert sky to a captivating view of the Milky Way “resting” on Balanced Rock in Arches National Park, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to take in the beauty and mystery expressed through these photographs.