Gallery Stroll Turns Two This Month
To most of you in Salt Lake it might come as a surprise when I tell you that the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll is two years old this month.
“Surely,” you’ll say, “Gallery Stroll has been around longer than that. My grandma used to take me to Gallery Stroll!” And in a sense you’re right. Gallery Stroll does go back more than twenty years, so while your grandmother might not have attended there’s a good chance your parents did. But that’s the old Gallery Stroll, the Salt Lake Gallery Association Gallery Stroll. The toddling two year-old I’m talking about is the new Salt Lake Gallery Stroll.
What was first known as the “Gallery Crawl” began in 1983. For more than twenty years Gallery Stroll remained one of the Salt Lake Gallery Association’s major projects. That ended in 2006, when Gallery Stroll made a quiet split from the SLGA and became a 501 (c) 3 non-profit. Kristina Robb and Laura Durham helped make the split. Robb, Executive Director of the Pickle Company, and Laura Durham, Visual Arts and Traveling Exhibits Coordinator of the Utah Arts Council, were both serving as Vice Presidents of the SLGA. They had a vision for Gallery Stroll, where it could become more inclusive and seek greater funds in order to better reach and educate the public about the visual arts in Salt Lake City.
The Salt Lake Gallery Association has a limited budget made up of members dues. As a commercial association, they can not seek foundation and grant money. Robb and Durham proposed that Gallery Stroll become its own entity so that, as a non-profit association, they could seek more funds and better serve both the Gallery Association and the wider visual arts community in Salt Lake.
“It only made sense to have the Gallery Stroll fit so it could focus on visual arts education in the community and the SLGA could focus on their mission, which was more focused on promoting the galleries and selling artwork,” Durham says.
The SLGA voted unanimously to approve the split. In its new form, the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll has a mission to bring the value of visual arts to the forefront of Salt Lake City’s culture by stimulating interest and investment in our ever-growing art community. Robb now serves as its executive director and Durham as its program director. The Salt Lake Gallery Stroll is now more inclusive, allowing galleries that are not members of the SLGA to participate in the monthly event. This allows for a more accurate representation of the visual arts across the city.
The SLGA became one of the founding sponsors along with the City Weekly. The Salt Lake Gallery Stroll’s first project was to start an advertising campaign with the City Weekly. The week of Gallery Stroll, City Weekly features a four page inset with a list of participating galleries. The galleries stay open until 9 pm so visitors can view the art and meet the artists.
Many of the Gallery Stroll’s sponsoring businesses, such as coffee shops and restaurants, also display artwork and their exhibits are listed as well. Gallery Stroll is a free event and you can map out your own route by picking up a City Weekly a couple days before the Stroll, or visiting www.gallerystroll.org.
As far as new organizations go, the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll has had a great head start with its twenty year history. Most people are still unaware that there ever was a split and the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll is a separate, and functioning organization with a 501 c3 and a board of directors. “The most difficult thing to overcome is the misinformation out there” says Robb. Search engines, local papers, local galleries, etc. publish their own particular articles and postcards that may or may not be correct as far as what’s actually happening with Gallery Stroll that month. Getting participating galleries to send their information in on time so the public can be informed in a timely manner is always a challenge (something we at 15 Bytes know very well).
For more information about the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll, please visit www.gallerystroll.org or call Laura Durham at 801. 533.3582.
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.