by Shawn Rossiter
Kim Duffin, long-time Assistant Director of the Salt Lake Arts Council, passed away in his sleep this past Sunday, November 4th. The loss that his family and friends must feel is shared by an arts community that will sorely feel his absence.
The first time I met Kim, I was a young painter looking for my first exhibition opportunities. My proposal for a show at Finch Lane having been unsuccessful, I was at the Art Barn to pick up my sleeve of slides. Kim was outside when I was walking back to my car, and seeing the slides in my hand he stopped to chat for a few minutes, encouraging me to apply again the following year.
Over the years, as I visited exhibitions and through my work with 15 Bytes, I had the pleasure of getting to know Kim better. He was always mild-mannered: he solved problems or smoothed obstacles with suggestions rather than stipulations. But beneath his soft demeanor was an impish sense of humor. Karen Krieger remarked how grateful she was to Kim, who before he suffered a stroke earlier this year, helped ease her into her new position as Director of the Salt Lake Arts Council; and how much she enjoyed trading jokes with him in the intimate space of the Arts Council offices.
He worked in those offices for 25 years, serving scores of Utah artists. He also devoted his time to the local community in other ways, serving on the boards of the Utah Aids Coalition, the Utah Wilderness Alliance and other non-profits.
Kim was an early and ardent supporter of this magazine, and an equally ardent advocate of the artists exhibiting at Finch Lane: whenever we considered covering one of the exhibitions in the gallery, Kim would petition for coverage of the other exhibits as well.
When I had my own exhibition at Finch Lane in 2006, Kim was always helpful and encouraging, even when this meant arranging for me to work on my piece late at night, pinning up an unwieldy and messy 450 square-foot pastel work, and waiting patiently for the piece to be finished even as he was setting out the food and drinks for the opening reception. He was equally helpful when Artists of Utah staged its 35 x 35 exhibition in 2009, embracing the youthful spirit of the show by donning an outfit of black leather pants and matching tie (see below).
I’m sure many members of our community could share similar stories, of a warm and generous individual who loved his work and those he worked with. Visiting Finch Lane Gallery without him there will feel like visiting the home of friends long after they have moved away.
Members of the community are invited join Kim’s family and friends in celebrating Kim’s life Saturday, November 10 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Art Barn, 54 Finch Lane, Salt Lake City. A brief remembrance will begin at 5 p.m. Memorials in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Salt Lake City Arts Council 54 Finch Lane SLC, UT. 84102 for a commissioned dedication to honor Kim.
The founder of Artists of Utah and editor of its online magazine, 15 Bytes, Shawn Rossiter has undergraduate degrees in English, French and Italian Literature and studied Comparative Literature in graduate school before pursuing a career in art.