A closer look at the Western Museums Association 2013 Annual Meeting host city…
The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) is a lucky institution indeed. Located in the heart of Salt Lake City, UMOCA is surrounded not only by the beautiful landscape, but also by a supportive and talented artistic community. In fact, Martin Prosperity Institute named Salt Lake City the 8th most Bohemian city in the nation on their updated Bohemian Index along with cities like LA, New York, and Toronto, to name a few. The index charts the concentration of working artists, musicians, writers, designers, and entertainers within metropolitan areas.
The art community here is a close-knit one, always eager to share in exhibition openings and support each other in any way possible. Even with this knowledge, we at UMOCA never ceased to be amazed when our Annual Gala rolls around each year, and the local artists come out in droves to support our institution.
The past two years we have held a “No Name Silent Art Auction.” In this format, chosen artists work on a 12”X12” panel provided by the museum. We accept any medium, and encourage “thinking outside the box,” so to speak. The only caveat is that they ensure it can be easily hung, and they sign it on the back. The evening of our gala, all sixty pieces are hung and our guests bid on them without knowing for sure what artist authored the piece they are bidding on.
Artists are acknowledged on our website, on the gala program, and all other gala materials. After the event, we publish a PDF with all of the works, ensuring that gala patrons and the public alike can find out who their favorite piece was created by. This year, however, the staff at UMOCA felt that the artists needed an additional gesture of appreciation. For the first time, we hosted a gala artist appreciation party. Thanks to a generous partnership with Epic Brewery, purveyors of delicious and refreshing local beer, we were able to make it a very special night indeed.
Scheduled with the opening of our Street Gallery exhibition Gianni Pettena: Forgiven By Nature, the party boasted tasty eats, a selection of Epic beers, and of course, great company. Attendees had the chance to participate in a curator’s tour, an artist Q & A, or simply spend time enjoying the atmosphere of the museum.
The artists weren’t the only invitees! Next to ensuring the artists knew how grateful we were for the donation of their time and talent, our secondary goal was to create a space where those that purchased or were interested in purchasing the works at the gala could meet the artists and foster existing relationships outside of the museum. The hope is that events like this will create a reciprocal relationship of support between UMOCA and the local arts community.
One of UMOCA’s guiding principles is to support and strengthen the local arts community. On a larger scale, at the forefront of our museum is the Locals Only Gallery. This gallery shows only local artists working in the contemporary idiom. We also recently introduced our Artist-in-Residence program, which is designed for artists living and working in Utah. This is supportive not just of the arts community, but of Utah’s livelihood as well. By retaining and assisting in the professional development of local artists, the Museum is keeping important creative capital within the state.
Chrissy Upton started at UMOCA in 2009 while attending school at the University of Utah. In 2012, she received her BA in Intermedia Sculpture and two minors – Art History and Business. Chrissy has a rich history working in the non-profit sector, and has continued to work full time in the UMOCA development department since receiving her degree.