Bountiful may not be known as a mecca for fine art, but Ramble Gallery is hoping to change that. On Main Street, at the edge of Bountiful’s Historic District, and a short 4-minute walk from the Bountiful Davis Art Center, Quin Boardman, Dave Trevino and Brodie Poll have turned a dilapidated Italian restaurant into a bright and welcoming gallery. “We took it down past the studs, we took everything out,” Boardman says. “We did most of the work ourselves and that was a huge undertaking but it was also like a passion project.” With bright white walls, LED lighting, and large glass windows in the front, calling this a transformation would be an understatement.
Boardman has been surrounded by art his whole life. But as co-owner and co-creator of Ramble Visuals, a film production company and sister company to Ramble Gallery, he realized that no amount of paid advertising compared to the value of displaying art in their studio. For years Ramble Visuals resided in downtown Salt Lake City where, desiring to surround himself and the community in art, Boardman would encourage his artist friends to display their art in pop-up shows. “We would take all the desks and everything out of the flex space and turn it into a gallery. It’s a bunch of friends just hanging out and there’s not a huge expectation to sell work or anything, more so just be around good art.”
The rippled effects of the COVID-19 pandemic led to fewer in-person meetings and more virtual ones, as well as many business rethinking their office spaces. Ramble decided to let go of their Salt Lake City flex space and venture into new territories. As natives of Bountiful, Boardman and Trevino decided to invest in real estate in an area they love. “There was kind of this ulterior motive for me to improve my hometown and to have a cool spot that I want to go to,” Boardman says. He can now bike to work and Ramble Visuals’ offices have been paired with a permanent gallery space, allowing Boardman and Trevino to be surrounded by art every minute of the work day. “I grew up around art. My mom is an artist and I’ve always loved being around artists and around art and so a gallery for me was something that would be so cool to do someday,” says Boardman.
Although proximity and a space full of incredible art are great perks, Boardman’s true motivation is to make art important for people. “I don’t want people to think of art as just a decoration on your wall or something to match with your couch or your drapes. I want it to be something a lot more important. Something that speaks on a different plane than our written language; that people recognize as something that’s valuable not something that’s just a luxury item.” After a recent visit to New York City, where he visited some of the galleries in Chelsea, Boardman returned with a renewed energy to ensure the Rambles’ new space moves people, creates a feeling within the walls, and provides solace.
The inaugural exhibition, “Volume One: Launch,” debuted on October 13th. The group show featured 14 artists contributing a diverse collection. However, they had one thing in common: all are Utah natives. Combining different varieties of art brought vibrancy to the collection. “Group shows are really exciting because you get such an eclectic, different vibe,” Boardman says. “I wanted to start with a group show because I thought it was important to get a sampling of different styles and feelings in the art. In doing so I think you recognize that all boats rise. We’re not picking and choosing in order to follow some trend, but, rather, we realize we’re all in this together with unique artistic tones.”
The event features textured oil landscapes by Martin Blundell, figurative work by artists like CJ Hales and Zachary Proctor, structures depicted with incredible light and shadow contrasts by Justin Wheatley, vibrant acrylics of people in motion by Clint Whiting, multi-layered prints by James Rees and more. Boardman likes to see artists who are willing to collaborate on ideas and contribute to the improvement of each artist’s work, like the original Impressionists in France — each artist was different, they had different views, different styles, but they all were Impressionists. “I love this kind of dialogue that art creates, and it’s a dialogue between the artists and a dialogue between the viewer. To me that’s really powerful to get people together. Clint [Whiting] and Justin [Wheatley] are really good at this. They’re good and having this group of people that they want to bounce ideas off of and have critiques. Instead of ‘I don’t want you to see what I’m doing here,’ it’s ‘We’re all working together, we’re all on this planet working through this together. Let’s work together to say something that’s bigger.’ As a gallerist, I’m here to support whatever they’re doing and hopefully democratizing what their message is to the community and to collectors. They’re artists and they’ve got this inspiration for a reason and I want them to work through that inspiration.”
Sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough time to just view something, and allow it to speak to our souls. One of Martin Blundell’s pieces displayed a desert sunset which reminds Boardman of traveling as a young kid to his grandpa’s house in Phoenix. It’s a feeling he can’t articulate, but looking at the painting, he experiences it all over again. “I think the world needs more of that communication.” It’s easy to get caught up in being consumers and not allow that experience to occur in our hearts and minds. Boardman is trying to celebrate artists whose art produces that kind of reaction.
The gallery plans on staging quarterly events, ranging from solo and two-person exhibitions to groups shows. Boardman and Trevino would like to pair sculptures with paintings, the two collections working together and reacting to one another. Boardman compares it to another art medium: “It’s like a duet. I love music and when instruments play off of each other. There’s a movement and a feeling of a trajectory that is in the music but all the instruments are a little bit different. Like jazz for example. They’re literally reacting to one another.”
Boardman is working to remind each viewer of their ability to express themselves and by doing so appreciate, love, and collect those expressions of talented artists. “It’s almost like we have to change a perception of not just these products that are hanging on the wall, but the product of art and that perception is probably a monumental task because that’s going to take a lot of effort on everybody’s behalf. What we’re doing is hopefully improving people’s perception of art beyond just a luxury”
With Ramble’s ability to transform spaces, adapt marketing practices for media production, and bring great artists together, Bountiful is well on its way to becoming a reliable place to find and enjoy incredible works of art. In the process, the viewers may find their perception of art changes.
Volume One: Launch, Ramble Gallery, Bountiful (375 N. Main St.), through Feb. 13
Jake Dean always seeks opportunities to discuss with artists the beauty and meaning of their creations. He is also an artist and has a passion for the deeper meaning in all mediums and how it connects us. He also enjoys time with family, film, and reading CS Lewis.