Joe Ostraff, a BYU professor and a board member of Art Access in Salt Lake, recognized the potential of Art Front Community Space at its inception and encouraged the group to cultivate a relationship with Art Access and seek funding support. That relationship resulted in a grant from Art Access, seed money intended to provide the gallery encouragement during the long process of acquiring non-profit status (their application is still pending). Ruth Lubbers, Executive Director of Art Access/VSA Arts, says they have decided to fund them for a second year, “because they are trying very hard to accomplish what they need to do.”
The Art Access grant requires Gallery OneTen to have 30% of their shows include artists with disabilities. “It is really interesting to even try to define that,” Gallery OneTen’s director Smith Callis says. “Financially disabled and physically disabled, we kind of define that broadly.” The gallery put together an exhibit of disenfranchised art called the Gorilla Art Interactive Inventory that resulted in 250 photographs documenting random creativity such as drawings in the cement or a funny sign observed in a window. An upcoming exhibit will feature art works gathered in South Africa by Leland Rowley and Kim Yeoman. Yeoman happens to use a wheel chair and encouraged blind people in South Africa to take photographs motivated by sound. Gallery OneTen also exhibits group and solo shows by established and emerging artists in the community. The openings are well attended and Smith Callis says that “every time we have an opening we try to make sure that some other cause is highlighted as well. Not only is it good for us to bring in different audiences that those causes touch, it is also important for us to feel like our art is doing some good.”
Gallery OneTen has three exhibition spaces: the Front Gallery, new exhibition boxes in the hallway titled Vice Versa, and the Main Gallery. The entryway Front Gallery space is maintained by building owner Horito, who has the last word on what will be displayed in the front hall in order to maintain traffic flow for his clients and address content concerns. Generally, board members plan to approach artists to show in the Vice Versa boxes, though they will consider applications. Shows in the Main Gallery rotate monthly and submission guidelines are available on the web-site. Smith Callis says “We love installation. Basically we want to do more experimental, challenging art that doesn’t necessarily have another place in this valley right now. We really fill a niche.”
The majority of the work in filling Gallery OneTen’s niche falls on director Smith Callis. Because funding from organizations like Art Access does not account for all of the Gallery’s needs, Gallery OneTen depends on a completely volunteer staff, including Smith Callis. Ostraff says, “Gallery One Ten has always been Raquel’s baby. She has always had a passion for underserved artists.” Smith Callis obtained a BFA in painting from BYU. After graduation, she opened Art Front Community Space and then became gallery director for the Provo Art Center. She also volunteered to manage the Provo Store Front galleries; the Downtown Alliance loved her work so much they hired her to do the job for them. This led to her current day job position as public arts program director with the Downtown Alliance. In her free time she volunteers with Gallery OneTen.
Smith Callis’ efforts to create a non-profit gallery in Provo have been closely attended by a supportive board and a safety net of strong community connections. Smith Callis could not have done this alone. “Difficulties for beginning galleries are always the same–issues of funding, visibility and community support,” Lubbers says. “Gallery OneTen is no exception.” Gallery OneTen has made it through its first year, the time frame in which, Lubbers notes, many galleries go under. Though they still have a lot of work to do, Lubbers is hopeful the organization will succeed. “Raquel is working incredibly hard,” Lubbers comments. “She has a great board and most of all, there is a real need for a community-based gallery in Provo, one that welcomes and fosters diversity. Raquel, however, cannot do all of this alone. Others, who want the same thing, will have to step up.”
Smith Callis is determined to see the organization grow. “We are starting out this new Year as Art Front Community Space. We want to sponsor other things that have nothing to do with Gallery OneTen, anything that is artistic or creative. Gallery One Ten speaks of this specific location, but in case we move or for other reasons we are now Art Front Community.”
During this first year, the gallery has had its growing pains. It tried to share the space with community classes, but found that didn’t fit. Sometimes they rent out the space for other events. Because the gallery is manned by volunteers, it is only open nine hours a week, during dinner hours on Monday, Thursday and Friday. They will soon be sharing office space with the Sego Foundation — which sponsored a huge art festival in Provo last year and have another festival planned for September 2007 –in return for covering some additional gallery hours.
I’m excited because we’re better equipped to handle this coming year than we were last year,” Callis says. “And we feel pretty good about this last year. We had a new show every single month; this year we are more focused on making sure our audience grows.” Ostraff says that the “gallery benefits the community because the events draw an amazing cross section of people. Artists of all different backgrounds find something in common here. Commercial galleries can’t do that. Gallery One Ten also provides an opportunity for ideas to be brought out that may not make money. This type of gallery is another layer of the community, offering the community voice.”