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September 2016
Utah's Art Magazine: Published by Artists of Utah
Page 10    

Organization Spotlight: Ogden
Laying a Foundation
Ogden First's PLATFORMS aims to extend the revitalization of 25th Street

It took bold vision to turn Ogden’s notorious “Two Bit Street” from a dark, dangerous place to the vibrant center of arts, retail dining and entertainment it is today. That same kind of vision now has its sights set on the area between there and the Eccles Art Center.

Ogden planners, including Ogden City Arts and private organizers want to stretch the arts district up 25th street to Jefferson. They have received N.E.A. grant funding to invest in the expanded arts corridor. The first step in this new vision was just taken by arts-focused nonprofit Ogden First with the September 2 opening of PLATFORMS, on the NW corner of 25th and Adams.

PLATFORMS consists of eight concrete slabs that will be used as an outdoor venue to showcase a wide variety of arts installations and performances: poetry, music, sculpture, painters, dance, and more. While PLATFORMS has programming in place through November, the hope is for organizations, individual artists, and the community in general to participate and contribute to future installments during the next 16-24 months.

There is plenty of “blank canvas” potential in the area. Except for the Ben Lomond Hotel and the office building across the street, most of the sloped block between Washington and Adams is taken up by either vacant lots or long-shuttered businesses. Scott Patria, of Ogden First, hopes PLATFORMS will become “a significant node in the expansion efforts”. He predicts that it will play an important part in “catalyzing more arts interventions” in Ogden.

While the pads are in place now, future additions will include power, lighting, and “just about anything” to support the installations. Patria envisions features like tents, walls, and bleachers as a part of the ever-changing monthly installations.

For September, PLATFORMS is hosting an installation critiquing the 2016 US presidential election cycle. “We The People” are encouraged to participate by recording their views on the current US political climate. Each platform solicits viewers’ input via chalk responses to questions posed.

Upcoming installations will be in conjunction with Ogden’s First Friday Art Stroll and will include a sculpture exhibit and an opportunity for community members to try their hands at throwing pots (in conjunction with the O-Town Throwdown).

Patria is excited about the early response to PLATFORMS. He cites a visitor to the opening, a dance troupe director, who immediately began envisioning how she could choreograph a performance to take advantage of the unique features of the venue.

Organizers are actively seeking volunteers and exhibition and performance proposals for spring 2017. Interested parties should contact scott Patria at scott@ogdenfirst.org. You could also learn more about what will unfold with PLATFORMS on Facebook on the Ogden First page.


Media Spotlight: Film
An Unbearable Tension
Natasha Danae’s For the Love of Tigers

Thanks to over a century of tireless efforts by heroic avant-garde artists and their supporters, no meaningful distinction exists today between contemporary artworks and the ordinary objects that surround them. Paintings cannot be distinguished from illustrations, sculptures from decor. Art galleries fill with redundant advocacy for already popular social and environmental causes, and the average installation feels as memorable and durable as an ad campaign.

Yet many, especially in Utah, refuse to completely abandon traditional art. They retain a taste for aesthetics: the integration of form and content in an individual object, so that what it conveys to the viewer, and how it communicates, are inseparable characteristics. Instead of the mainstream gallery, in which viewers encounter multimedia spectacles and displays of wit, wherein an artist spatters his or her ego as widely as possible, they seek intimate, personal connections with unique works, each bearing the marks of its own passage into the world.

One place where I’ve found such art recently, ironically enough given the historical context, is in the Dada Centennial celebration at UVU. Presided over by the multidimensional poet Alex Caldiero, this academic rekindling of the Dada spirit, including a film festival presenting rarely- seen, yet essential gems, seeks to prove that Dada isn’t just the one indispensable modern art movement, but remains a vital creative impulse that continues to inspire authentic works of art. As proof, Professor Caldiero recently offered Salt Lake artist Natasha Danae’s “For the Love of Tigers,” of which he said that once he’d seen it, he couldn’t get its images out of his mind. I found I couldn’t either.

In contrast to imposing her ideas on the physical world, Natasha Danae digs deeply into her subjects to find out what they already contain. Yet, while “For the Love of Tigers” is not a work of fiction, neither is it a reporting of facts. It’s not an entertainment, neither is it a document. Like any real work of art, it speaks to its audience in a complex fashion. Still, a vital part of what makes it work as art is Danae’s choice to present her collaborator, artist Ed Johnson, through the medium of the moving picture. Because his own movement is severely limited, watching Mr. Johnson creates an almost unbearable tension, through which the viewer doesn’t just see, but feels the harrowing, potentially explosive way his life and his vitality are imprisoned in his physical body. That cellular comprehension turns out not only to be about him alone, but kindles the shared, and ultimately tragic understanding that we are all Mr. Johnson.

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