Salt Lake City Art World

Great to finally meet my super-host and dynamic Utah art leader, Amy Jorgensen, who had the idea of bringing me here to Utah, out of discussions we'd had about art criticism and its role across the United States.

We began the day with John Sproul who founded Nox Contemporary, and is a great supporter of Utah artists. A meaningful conversation about the state of contemporary art in the city, and we heard John's thoughts about what has changed, and what he'd like to still see evolve in the region in terms of art-making, and viewing. 

The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, where Laura Allred Hurtado, Executive Director, and Jared Steffensen, Curator of Exhibitions, discussed their insightful programs and aims—Art Fitness is a great idea. It's about losing some art "fat" by bringing people into the museum to consider what art means to them rather than just relying on soundbites from art history, which can be difficult to get past, and too often define the experience of an artwork. UMOCA's artist residency program gives seven artists per year, a studio and solo exhibition at the museum. Fantastic and flexible main exhibition space. Really energized by these two inspiring creative workers. Brilliant video work on show by Lenka Clayton. 

To the Rio Grande Depot/Utah State Historical Society Building, to meet Jim Glenn, Visual Arts Manager, and Lisa Greenhalgh, Visual Arts and Public Art Assistant, at Utah Arts and Museums. Incredible work they do in bringing art to audiences—whether art or general public—throughout the state. Utah was the first state in the country to implement such an endeavor. I am here to learn more than anything else, and finding out about the pioneering history of art and art funding in Utah from committed, and progressive leaders is humbling.  

"The 1899 “Art Bill”, created by the Utah legislature, was the first state-funded arts council in the nation. The law’s purpose was to advance the interest of fine arts; expand the influence of art in education; sponsor an annual art exhibition; present public lectures on art; and establish a state art collection."

Modern West Fine Art, where Shalee Cooper, Gallery Director, was kind enough to show us around, discuss the artists that they work with, and talk about the art they are currently showing. The gallery works with a diverse range of artists from across the state, the country, and internationally.

Utah Museum of Fine Arts, to meet Whitney Tassie, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Jorge Rojas, Director of Education and Engagement, to see the collection, tour the museum and discuss aspects of the critical impact of art writing in the state. Greatly informed by Whitney's knowledge of the collection and her vision for the museum. And it was so good to see Jorge, a friend from some years back, in New York. 

A two hour drive south, through incredible scenery—snow-capped mountains, valleys and vast skies—to Granary Arts, Ephraim; home-base for the week. I'll be working in the C.C.A. Christensen (1831-1912) original family cabin. Christensen was a pioneer artist who created epic, cinematically-scaled panoramas of Utah life and landscape.