Launch of Critical Ground: Like Minds, Dedication
Today was the first of our Critical Sessions at Granary Arts, and it was deeply affecting. A group of committed, inventive, and inspiring educators, artists, directors, writers and curators from across the state came together to discuss the role of criticism in the Utah art world; perceptions, issues and challenges faced by art organizations and institutions in Utah, from funding to geography; how to galvanize art workers to build community, interest in, and disseminate, the unique aspects of art and art-making here; and how to invest their energy and resources in both attracting critical interest to Utah, and advancing the cause of Utah-based artists beyond state lines. It was a lot; everyone gave a lot; everyone contributed such great commentary and experience. This group, together with their peers elsewhere in the state have the resources and the aptitude to initiate new momentum, in addition to what they have already achieved in Utah.
This is why contemporary art-making and showing outside of New York and Los Angeles, is often so much more interesting. There are far more interesting things going on across the country in smaller cities and different regions because there are challenges in terms of society, religion, cultures, geographies, perception and audience, that the largest art centers don't have to contend with—that breeds complacency, arrogance and dismissiveness, and that is dangerous. Rural locales or modestly-sized cities have been sidelined by the larger art discourse, or dismissed for too long, and yet they are exactly what make for such interesting and innovative art scenes. It takes ingenuity, courage, persistence and sensitivity to make progress. Every region, whether Utah, Texas, Maine, or Alabama, has its own set of characteristics, and unifying commonalities. Today was a step along the way to resolution and development in Utah...the first state in the country to have a state-funded arts council, under the auspices of the 1899 Art Bill and Alice Merrill Horne. Imagine that.