This month has a number of exhibitions across the state that are kinda awesome, and passing them up would be a shame. I envy the people who will leave the house on Friday to see what's happening on Stroll night, but we'll talk more about our coverage of that on Monday. For now, we're taking a quick peek into what's happening at the Urban Arts Gallery at The Gateway, as they present the group exhibition Women In Art
. Today we chat with the gallery's curatorial manager, Lisa Greenhalgh, to chat about her involvement with the gallery and get a preview of the art you can see this Friday. (All pictures provided courtesy of Urban Arts Gallery.
Gavin: First thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m fairly new to Salt Lake City,
but am loving everything about it so far. I grew up in California and I used to go surfing all the time, but have recently become obsessed with the mountains. My favorite things are the outdoors and nature, art museums, eating dessert, dogs and bowling with friends.
What first got you interested in art, and what artists did you enjoy as you grew up?
The first time I remember having a connection with art was in kindergarten. We were doing an art project and the other kids were asking questions and pointing out how weird I looked when I painted. (I am left handed—this was confusing to them). As a super-timid kid this would have normally been devastating, but in that moment I didn’t even care what the other kids thought, because I was loving creating and was excited about how well my project was turning out. As a kid, I loved Marc Chagall and Mary Cassatt. I loved Chagall’s use of color and the whimsy and imagination he incorporated in each piece. I did multiple school reports about Mary Cassatt and was so impressed with her success as a female artist painting traditional “feminine” subjects.
At what point did you decide you wanted to be involved with it beyond just appreciation?
In school, I fell in love with the historical and technical aspects of art, but it also made me want to share the joys of art with others. I hate the idea of people being turned off by art because they “don’t get it.” Art is for everyone, and I wanted to make a career based on sharing that idea.
You received your Bachelors at BYU in Art History and Curatorial Studies. What made you choose BYU and what was that program like?
Honestly, I don’t usually tell people I went to BYU, because they have preconceived notions and ideas about the university and the people who go there. I did not have a typical experience, and do not identify with the average student or alumni, but I did receive an amazing education because BYU’s Art History program is exceptional. The professors are wonderful, the course selection was varied and comprehensive, and the on-campus art museum curates incredible exhibits.
Prior to Urban Arts Gallery, who else did you work for over the years?
Before working at Urban Arts Gallery, most of my curatorial and art experience was in museums. I had different internships and moved around a bit, but most notably I worked with the Springville Museum of Art. The main difference is that now part of my job includes putting a price on artwork—not my favorite task.
What eventually brought you to UAG to become their curatorial manager?
I moved to Salt Lake City and wanted to get involved in the art community, so I started volunteering at a few different places and tried to make connections. I heard about the UAA and really wanted to be a part of it and contribute to their cause. Luckily, for me, the UAG had an opening for a gallery assistant, so I jumped at the chance to work with the gallery and the arts alliance.
What are some of the shows you've taken the most pride in curating since taking over?
This show is definitely at the top of the list, but one of the others that I loved was “Where Is My Mind?” that we did last year. It was all surreal art, which made it really intriguing, and we had a great mix of established and aspiring artists. The annual Star Wars
show is always interesting to plan, with over 50 artists in one show—but it is a lot of fun, too.
How did the idea for the Women In Art exhibition come about?
I’ve always wanted to do a show like this, and the idea has been floating around for awhile. We had artists touch on these themes with their pieces in other shows, and we discussed the idea, but it didn’t solidify until this year. The themes of feminism and social justice kept coming up in artists’ proposals, as well as from our regularly shown artists. It seemed like the timing was finally right to curate this type of show.
How did you go about choosing who would be involved? Who will be on display this month?
A lot of talented artists are creating artwork with themes of womanhood sparked from their own personal experiences and beliefs. It was easy to find artists whose work was fitting for this show and could contribute meaningful pieces; the hard part was not being able to include everyone. This month we’re showcasing seven artists: Erica Kathleen, Josie White, Tonia Klein, Emily Sammons, Virginia Johnson, Emily Larsen, Julie Lucas and AnnaLyssa Powell.
What's your favorite piece from the exhibition and why?
This is a tough one. If I had to choose, I would say “Tiffany” by Erica Kathleen. There are literally sparkles in her eyes and I think it’s a beautiful concept; her beauty doesn’t detract from her power but adds to it. This piece really draws you in—I can’t not
stare at it when I’m at the gallery. One of my other favorite pieces is “Cassandra” by Tonia Klein. It is so simply executed, but conveys so much feeling and emotion, it’s amazing.
What do you hope people will take away from the show?
There is no "right" way to be an artist, or a feminist, or a woman, or a person. Each individual’s experience is valid and meaningful.
What can we look forward to seeing from Urban Arts Gallery over the rest of the year?
This year is going to be the best yet. We have something for everyone—shows with tons of pop art, politically charged shows and everything in between. We have a bunch of new artists displaying, as well as some of SLC’s more established artists.