Alternative Venues: Salt Lake City
SLGA: Twenty Years and Still Strolling
by Laura Durham
A politely put, “good luck” followed by a short little laugh is probably
one of the nicer responses you’ll receive after telling someone about
your big plans of opening an art gallery. Just like artists, galleries
have a difficult time attracting and maintaining a clientele in a smaller
population center such as Salt Lake.
But for twenty years now, the
Salt Lake Gallery Association
has consisted of galleries that endure these challenges in good economic
times and bad. If competing with other galleries weren’t enough, retail
art galleries compete with non-profit galleries that may not be under the
same restrictions. Retail galleries depend on the sale of artwork alone
to support rent, overhead, advertising and staff while non-profits can
depend on state and federal funding along with donations and grants.
The Salt Lake Gallery Association
now includes twenty-one retail galleries, seven non-profit galleries,
eight affiliate galleries (businesses that host exhibits) and one open
studios gallery. Ironically, it was a controversy between the retail
galleries and the non-profits that motivated the organization of what
is now known as the Salt Lake Gallery Association.
In 1983 the SLGA was born under
the name of “the Utah Art Dealers Association.” In the beginning, it
consisted of strictly for-profit retail galleries in both Salt Lake and
Park City. The first members were Dolores Chase Fine Art, David Ericson
Fine Art, Phillips Gallery, Meyer Gallery and many more, some of which
closed down or are no longer with us.
The union of these galleries
was triggered by what they believed to be unfair dealings being made
by the Salt Lake Art Center – a not-for-profit organization. The Utah
Art Dealers Association argued that the SLAC’s sale of artwork to corporate
entities was done in a manner that violated the regulations placed on
organizations with non-profit status, putting them in direct competition
with retail galleries in the surrounding area. In the meantime, the Salt
Lake Art Center was fighting for its very survival. Directors and board
members were approached, issues were discussed, compromises were made
and it wasn’t long before the Salt Lake Art Center and retail galleries
were able to cohabitate in harmony once again.
Gallery Spotlight: Salt Lake City
Left Bank's New Vision
by Shawn Rossiter
On Oct 1, 2003,
Left Bank gallery, Utah’s longest running artists’ cooperative, underwent
major internal reconstruction and emerged as
New Visions Gallery
Heather Wunderlich, past gallery director
for Left Bank, says "Left Bank was a great organization that offered
an opportunity for emerging artists to get their feet wet in the art world.
Many well-known local and national artists got their start there. During
its thirteen years of operation, Left Bank exhibited over 150 shows and
hosted many memorable performance art pieces. But we felt the space was
just not being utilized to its full potential”.
Visions for Learning, a non-profit
corporation founded in 1977 and operating in California, Oregon and
Utah, stepped in to help the space realize its potential. The organization,
which is dedicated to the advancement of innovative and exemplary educational
projects, particularly arts-based initiatives, joined with individuals
involved in Left Bank to create a new gallery with a new vision.