It’s hard to find a frame shop around town that doesn’t secretly want to be a gallery. They may start off with the intention of simply framing art, but somehow, whether through the relationship with their artist clientele or their own passion for art, hosting exhibitions becomes an exciting focus for their business.
Millcreek’s Evergreen Gallery was established as a frame shop back in 1985. Owners Majid and Kelly wanted their own business and it was a natural fit for Kelly’s framing background. It wasn’t long before the business took on some local artists and then, in 2003, they expanded by constructing a new building around the corner on 3295 South and 2000 East. Knowing that displaying art was a growing passion for them, they were able to include designing appropriate exhibition space early in the process.
Originally from California, Art Director Jodi Steen has worked with Majid and Kelly for over fourteen years. “I originally came to Utah for my husband to go to graduate school at the University of Utah, so I promised my employers two-three years…we really liked Salt Lake City, so my husband got a job here, we bought a house, had some kids, and now call it home.”
Evergreen is a privately owned gallery and represents approximately 25 artists including Don Prys, Ben Behunin, Carel Brest van Kempen, Aaron Fritz, David Meikle, Cassandria Parsons, M’lisa Paulsen, Nathan Florence (and others you can see on their website). The styles range from traditional to contemporary. They rotate exhibits almost every month and participate in the monthly Salt Lake Gallery Stroll. New artists are always welcome and a selection committee reviews portfolios on a monthly basis.
Evergreen says they always strive for the same goal: to always improve on what they just did. That may mean developing new framing techniques or curating an innovative show. They also give back to the community. A monthly opening for high school students is designed to give the students a “gallery experience.” Evergreen also hosts political and charity events, and makes financial contributions to worthy causes through some of their shows.
As much as the gallery is keen on maintaining good rapport with clients and the community, Steen also emphasizes the importance of keeping good relationships with their artists. They feel strongly about educating the artists as much as possible to ensure both the artist and the gallery has a good and successful experience. Being an artist herself, Steen gets the interesting experience of being on both sides. “I feel like I help link a lot of artists with the gallery owners and get each to see both sides of things differently. I also get to chat with people all the time and get feedback on my work, where if you’re not in a community of artists, you may not get that.”
The gallery rests on a well-traveled street so it enjoys a visibility that invites passers by as well as destination shoppers. “People come specifically to see an artist, to do framing, or do gift buying” says Steen. “We have a lot of people who bring in visitors from out of town to see our gallery. We feel like we are a great neighborhood alternative to going downtown.”
Now that summer is over, the gallery is back in the swing of lining up shows for the coming season. In September they will feature landscapes by Jeffery R. Pugh. Steen says to look for some surprising self-portraits amidst his better-known landscapes. Along with Pugh they will exhibit some glass birds by Morag Totten and mixed media birds by Alison Armstrong.
October brings in Bren Bataclan, from Boston. With his colorful, cartoon-character paintings, Bataclan wants to make people feel “everything will be all right.” Continuing a project he has been taking across the country, he will be leaving 15 paintings around town for people to find and enjoy. This exhibit is also a benefit for the Ability Center in Park City. November is a group show called “Buy Local, By Local” where the gallery will invite all their local artists to paint works of local people, places, and things.
For more information about the gallery visit www.evergreengallery.com. If you’re lucky enough to find a Bren Bataclan painting next month, send us a photo and let us know where you found it — firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Durham works for KUED Channel-7 in the Creative Services Department, curating community engagement projects for both PBS and KUED productions that foster trust and value to the communities in Utah. She also produces Contact with Mary Dickson and Contact in the Community — a digital series featuring arts and culture groups in Utah. Prior to her work at KUED, Laura spent 15 years at the Utah Division of Arts & Museums in the visual arts program and later managing communications, branding, marketing, and public value projects for all arts and museums programming. She has served the Utah community in various capacities with her role as Vice President of the Salt Lake Gallery Association and Program Director for the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll. She lives in Salt Lake City, sings with Utah Chamber Artists, and loves to contribute to 15 Bytes as often as time allows.