Reading Shawn Rossiter’s article “ Not Your Grandmother’s Stroll” in the January 2008 issue of 15 Bytes, put me in mind of the formative years of Gallery Stroll. My family and I had moved to Utah from Michigan in 1981 and by 1983 I was a volunteer on the Salt Lake Art Center’s Alliance Board. The group of us were frustrated by the disagreement between the Art Center and the Utah Art Dealers Association alluded to in Shawn’s article and we wanted to mend fences for the sake of the arts community. Back in Michigan, I’d read about a yearly Pub Crawl in the Detroit Free Press where participants were chauffeured around on busses. Having lived in Utah just long enough to know that that wouldn’t fly, I half-jokingly suggested a Gallery Crawl. The ideas flowed around the table. We contacted galleries such as Phillips, Artists in Action in Crossroads Mall, Canyon Gallery and J. Christiansen Gallery. With those galleries on board, the next problem to tackle was transportation. We contracted with Old Salty, the charming little train which pulled tourists around town. Good idea, but it broke down in front of Phillips Gallery, stranding about seventy riders and we had to send a bus. At about 10 PM, everyone returned to the Salt Lake Art Center for a culminating party.
The second year, we repeated the Crawl minus Old Salty, but encountered other problems. We added hors d’ oeuvres donated by restaurants in the neighborhoods of the participating galleries. Groups of overly eager gallery crawlers commandeered busses for groups of friends, leaving other groups of crawlers stranded and completely ruining tight crawl schedules. Again, we all returned to the Salt Lake Art Center for a Champagne Breakfast at 10 pm. An amazing “before its time” restaurant called Jaz Ranch Bistro (located where Squatters Brew Pub is now!) catered the party. Champagne, scrambled eggs, bacon and Danish were abundant. Especially the champagne! Half through the evening I glanced at a young woman sitting next to me – fascinated and horrified at the same time. Her eyes were closed and she began swaying. Back and forth, back and forth. It was mesmerizing! Then, in one quick and quiet moment, she slipped sideways to the floor. So Shawn, what’s this about grandmothers? If your grandmother took you on Gallery Stroll during those formative years, she must have been one hip Grandma!
photo: Ruth Lubbers and early organizers of Gallery Crawl surround Old Salty. Click image to view an enlargement and names.