Thanks to the unprecedented contribution of vacant office space from Utah Power and Boyer Company, on February 7th Ogden City Arts opened the doors on a whole new look for community arts development in Weber County.
Virtually taking over the ground floor of the granite and smoke glass City Center building on the corner of 25th Street and Washington Blvd (formerly Ogden City’s Municipal offices) — ARTSTOP:OGDEN functions as a multi-use visitors’ center for the arts which includes a working studio space for up to six artists, a community gallery, meeting & theater space, and the working office for Ogden City Arts Coordinator, Robin Macnofsky.
“After receiving the Ogden City Arts contract last November, Downtown Ogden, Inc. realized that office space for the arts presented an opportunity to increase public access to—and awareness of—local arts events, performances, and galleries,” explains Dan Musgrave, Executive Director for Downtown Ogden, Inc. “ARTSTOP provides information on local arts organizations, granting opportunities, public art installations, and hosts artists’ studio spaces.”
ARTSTOP’s featured artists must live or work in Weber County, and since February’s open house have included painters Gabriel Stockton, Glenda Smith, Glen Larsen, Nancy Clark and Cara Coolmees, ceramists Diana Lea, Ed Hymas, Suzanne Storer and Darnel Haney, printmaker Joe Dixon, textile wovens from Christina May, metals artist John Little, wood worker David Wolfgram, and mosaic artsist Christina Graham. Local artists who live in Weber County are encouraged to apply for display or studio space.
Macnofsky explains the criteria for participation at ARTSTOP: “We are accepting applications for studio space based on ‘reasonable need,’ which may be either financial or spatial. We have even allocated space for itinerant artists who already have a working studio, but may need more room to work on a specific project for several days or weeks.”
The studio spaces are ‘free’ in the sense that no cash changes hands. However, Macnofsky has developed a system of swapping community service hours in exchange for the cash value of the space: The studio spaces are valued at $100 per month (based on comparable space in Ogden), while the artists’ “time” contribution is valued at $10 p/hour for general projects (maintenance and set-up assistance for monthly shows and public arts events), and $20 p/hour for time spent teaching art workshops at local after-school programs. Each month the artists log their hours contributed to service projects or teaching, and then Macnofsky deducts them from the ARTSTOP ‘Bank of Hours.’
“Its a symbiotic exchange of services,” claims Macnofsky. “We need volunteers for all types of arts projects within the community, and many artists are in need of affordable studio space. What artists generally do not have is cash—what is more expendable (and equally valuable) is their time—especially when it comes to teaching kids hands-on arts experiences. It’s a winning partnership for everyone involved, especially for youth in this inner-city area who get very limited exposure to the arts.”
ARTSTOP:OGDEN joins Ogden’s Gallery Street Stroll on the first Friday of each month, which begins and ends with anchors Gallery At The Station, the Eccles Community Art Center, and includes more than ten artists’ studios, commercial galleries and independently owned businesses in Ogden’s historic district. Thanks to its central location, ARTSTOP acts as connecting point between the 25th Street arts district and the Eccles Community Art Center located at Jefferson & 26th Street.
In addition to studio space, the co-operative gallery offers another venue for local artists who often find a long and crowded waiting list to display their artwork in the established venues like Gallery At The Station and the Eccles Community Art Center. Recently, a handful of new galleries and co-operatives have sprung up in Ogden’s historic district in response to this need for additional gallery space to represent the rapidly expanding pool of northern Utah artists. “For so many years, the Eccles Art Center has been a lone beacon for the arts in Weber County. Now—other ships are finally appearing in Ogden’s ‘harbor’. That means more local, emerging artists have a greater opportunity for exposure and a chance to display and market their work”
Arts Renaissance in Ogden? “Believe it or not… it’s happening,” says Macnofsky. Within the past two years, six new visual art galleries & studios have opened their doors on 25th Street: Wasatch Art & Frame, Gallery 25, Stuck-in-the-Attic Artists’ Studio, The Fine Arts Gallery, Gallery at the Station and now ARTSTOP:OGDEN.
Washington Blvd. is also home to several galleries: Art Glass Originals, Erica Martin Antiques & Gallery; 24th St.’s B Gallery at Bartholomew’s Frame Company; Ogden Blueprint & Supply —even Zions Bank joined in the Gallery Stroll last summer with special exhibits at their 23rd Street Branch. “When you add in the shops, restaurants and boutiques who feature the work of local artists—Zenger’s Deli, Grounds for Coffee, Jones & Co. Salon, Ruby & Begonia’s—there is a trend which positions the downtown core as an emerging arts district,” Macnosky adds. “The number of arts businesses within a two-block radius of ARTSTOP will number more than 20 by May.”
ARTSTOP:OGDEN exists solely on a month-to-month contribution for office space. The proposal was to ‘dress-up’ the space which had been sitting empty for three years, to make it more appealing to potential business-owners.
According to Macnofsky, “we refer to our ‘ephemeral’ presence here as the ‘Cinderella Syndrome’—we can turn back into a pumpkin at any moment: as soon as someone shows up with the capital resources to pay for the office space, we move on. . .” But, Macnofsky is not complaining, “This embodies the essential practice of Buddhist ‘non-attachment’ —when these spaces lease, of course we’ll be sad to go. But it will demonstrate a tangible ‘value’ of arts directly impacting economic development. There are still other empty storefronts along Washington Blvd, waiting for their chance to be Cinderella . . . to be dressed up and re-valued.”
Macnofsky likens the redevelopment currently underway in Ogden to cosmetic surgery, “We are in that awkward period of post-op following a facelift—we should be hiding in the house with the shades drawn—but life and business demand that we carry on as usual. Two years from now, with the mall renovation, the new IRS building, the American Can redevelopment, 25th Street’s Union Square complex and the RiverWalk project—Ogden is going to be radiant, and people will be doing double & triple-takes on what’s changed in Weber County. I believe the arts district will be one of the gems that show-off Ogden’s renewed beauty and “allure.”
ARTSTOP:OGDEN is a division of Downtown Ogden, Inc. located at 2484 Washington Blvd., Ste 101-102. For more information, to apply for studio space or to enlist as a volunteer Arts Ambassador, contact Robin Macnofsky at 393-3866.