Micol Hebron: Redefining the Artist-Art Center Relationship

Have you noticed anything different about Salt Lake Art Center lately? More lectures by guest artists (one almost every week)? Greater presence in the social media? And, what’s this? They want feedback from the art community?

Saturday afternoon SLAC’s executive director Adam Price formally introduced his latest organizational change in the form of new senior curator Micol Hebron who will officially assume her duties in August but who is already very involved in SLAC planning via telephone and email. To an audience of some 75 artists, art historians, and art collectors, Hebron zipped through a slideshow that barely skimmed her background (daughter of hippies…spent her first three years living in a tent in the woods), art influences (fourth grade teacher introduced her to the work of Jackson Pollock), career (in collaborative performance art, professor of art at the Art Center College of Design; founder of Gallery B-12 in Hollywood, writer for Art Forum and others), and the place of contemporary art in society (a “leaky body”…suspect…dangerous) to get to what she really wanted to do: hear from the audience ideas for the future of SLAC.

But, before handing out Mini’s cupcakes to empower (and encourage) speakers from the audience, she took a few minutes to share her own early hopes and dreams for SLAC:
• National recognition that brings art tourism to Utah
• Recognition for Utah/regional artists
• Inspiration for local artists to do more, get better
• Bring to Utah art “you’ve never seen before”
• Get Utah artists talking to each other about, and because of, art
• Collaborations with existing institutions (i.e., Museum of Fine Arts, schools)

Whether it was the cupcakes or pure inspiration, audience members did share hopes and dreams of their own:
• “No art mafia” – make SLAC more accessible for local artists
• Promote community among artists; counter the natural tendency toward competitiveness and elitism
• Develop stamina – don’t give up if something doesn’t work
• Curate shows that could travel to other museums or art centers around the country
• Open the art center to the community and make it less scary

In the give and take, there were clearly differing views on how SLAC might best help Utah artists. Some seemed to want greater opportunities to submit work and have it exhibited at SLAC, while others cautioned that SLAC should maintain the highest standards, so that once an artist achieves a showing at SLAC, he/she is ready and able to move on from here.

Hebron has ideas of her own about how to help local artists. Among other ideas already mentioned, she wants to conduct workshops on portfolio building, resumes, and artist statements.

All of these changes will not happen in Hebron’s first month on the job, but change, change, and more change – all designed to, as Price said, “build connections with the community” – is definitely coming to the Salt Lake Art Center.

Categories: Happenings

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