NOW MORE THAN EVER
A Personal Message from the President 
Or How I Learned Nothing from “Jerry MaGuire”*

Artists of Utah has been at it a year.  Coding.  Editing. Writing. Marketing. Promoting.  For me, personally, this has meant that time to paint during the past year has become less and less frequent. 

For me one of the joys, one of the fringe benefits of being an artist, is the freedom -- the sixteen hours in a day to be filled with nothing but creativity.  Now, however, it seems the phone is always ringing, I spend more time at the computer than at the easle, and I actually have business meetings.  I think I may have even thought about purchasing a tie.  

And for months now I’ll I’ve wanted to do is paint.  I don’t want to be “that Artists of Utah guy.”  I want to be a painter again.  I prefer my role of mediocre painter to that of important arts-organizer or “powerful” editor.
 

So, late one night this summer, too late for a business dinner and too late for phone calls, I was in my studio.

Painting.

While I was mixing some cadmium red with burnt siena, in the back of my mind I was mulling over a phone conversation I had had earlier that day.   I had been talking to a friend, another artist.  We had discussed possibilities for shows, what each other was in the process of working on, and, most of all, how difficult it had become recently to sell art.  She told me that she had taken a “real job.”  She mentioned another Utah artist, one she had always considered “established” and successful.  She had spoken to him earlier that day and he had asked her if she knew of any work.  That was when she knew things were bad. 
 
Mulling this over in my mind as I flicked paint across the canvas, the thought came to me – NOW MORE THAN EVER.

I know a lot of artists and galleires have been struggling in Utah.  Money has been running out for many out there who have been attempting to add something of value to the community.  They just cannot keep pouring money into their ventures, with the market so incredibly stale and with no immediate signs of relief.  And so, slowly, arts organizations tighten their belts, galleries close their doors, and artists put down their brushes and chisels.

Sitting at my easel, I thought about a recent board meeting Artists of Utah held.  We had discussed our own finances, our need to ask members of the community to provide more assistance for the organization.  And I thought how ridiculous I felt at the time, thinking to ask people to ante up funds for the organization when everyone is just struggling to get by.

And that’s when it hit me: NOW MORE THAN EVER.

Now more than ever artists need to be able to come together for mutual support.  Now more than ever art lovers need a place they can find what interests them, learn more about the artists they are collecting. Now more than ever artists need to be aware of all the opportunities for success across the state.  Now more than ever, the state needs a means of communication that can weave the visual arts world into one fabric. Now more than ever patrons need to know about exhibitions and events.  Now more than ever the entire community needs an avenue for critical thought, exposure to artists, news about public issues and changes in the visual arts community.

The thing is, looking back over this past year, at this thing we have put together -- this Artists of Utah – the thing is, IT HAS WORKED.  People seem to have caught our vision and in turn have given us their own vision.  Over the past year artists, art lovers and art professionals have gotten to know each other.  We have seen ideas blossom and take fruit.  We have seen the size of this state shrink in the pages of 15 BYTES.   Our own eyes have been opened and continue to be opened to all the exciting happenings across the state.  

Everything going on in Artists of Utah seems to be working.  Artists are getting hits on their sites, submissions to exhibitions are increasing, and people are becoming familiar with each other.  15 BYTES has enlarged from a newsletter to a magazine, people are taking advantage of the services section to share equipment, find studios, look for work, etc.  Arts organizaitons are using us as a method to help fulfill their programs.  To whatever small degree, Artists of Utah has worked.  

And that’s why it hit me.  What Artists of Utah can provide -- that node of connection for the entire community -- is needed now more than ever.<

Now is not the time to concentrate on budget cuts but, rather, budget uses.  Artists, galleries, art councils, and art socieities are all doing great, exciting things in our community but they are doing them alone, separated.  We created our organization to bring them together.  And we need to do that now more than ever.  We need to capitalize on the money we do have, to use it together.   Separated and alone, we will all individually struggle, and fade away.   

Now more than ever we all need each other – for ideas, for support, for fraternity.

If Artists of Utah has been able to do anything over the past year it has been to bring people together.  To get connected.  Become aware.  And in coming together new initiatives, new ideas are created.  Now more than ever we want to be a means to bring it all together and then to send it out to the world.

More and more volunteers are helping out with our efforts and financial contributions from members of the community have helped to keep our site online and expanding.  We would like to thank all those that have helped and we want to continue to ask everyone who can to give a hand:  in time, in ideas, in feedback, in word of mouth.  And now, specifically, we are asking everyone who can to help out the organization financially.  To keep us going and to help us grow.

Now more than ever we need each other.  Now more than ever we need a community.

Shawn Rossiter
President, Artists of Utah

Our organization can be contacted via email at artistsofutah@netzero.net.  We are avialable by appointment at our offices at 1064 East 2100 South in Sugar House.  You can mail your contributions to:
Artists of Utah
PO BOX 526297 
SLC, UT 
84152-6297 

Or visit : http://www.artistsofutah.org/funds.html to learn how to donate online with a credit card.
 

*I have to apologize for the pompousness of even writing a “message from the President.”  I feel like Jerry Maguire, the character played by Tom Cruise in the 1996 TriStar Pictures movie.    Cruise, a sports agent stays up late one night at a convention, churning out page after page of a mission statement, describing his vision of how his profession can improve.  That night, he has a copy of his mission statement sent to all the agents at the conference.  In the rational light of day, however, he is horrified at what he has done, races to retrieve the mission statement, but it is too late.   Within days, his midnight musings get him a daylight dismissal from his job, and the drama begins.  Well, I wrote this at midnight, but even now, in the light of day, I’m throwing it in here, for what it’s worth.