week brought us the third Friday of the month, which can only mean
one thing in Salt Lake City… Gallery Stroll. With a brand new set
of artists appearing at galleries and businesses, I decided to make
my way down to one of the galleries making a name for itself along
the Broadway Strip.
--- Kayo Gallery has been a staple of 3rd South for a number of years, formerly occupying the space Nobrow Coffee now holds, to move up the street to better digs near 2nd East. Recently the gallery came under new ownership in the trusting hands of Shilo Jackson, who is looking to bring something new and continue the tradition of the already established arthouse. I got a chance to talk to her as well as Erin W. Berrett, the artist featured at Kayo that evening for her solo show on the Stroll, all with pictures for you to check out here.
Erin W. Berrett
Gavin: Hey Erin. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into doing this.
Erin: I just always painted and then went to school for it at the University Of Utah, graduated in 1998. Then I had to go to work and didn't paint for about seven years, but then finally got back into it. And I've been painting full time for about four years. But I was always a painter and it's always what I wanted to do, just was a matter of getting the opportunity to be able to do it full time, cause I have to of it full time, I couldn't do it half and half.
Gavin: What inspired you to go to the U to do it instead of a more artistic college?
Erin: I had heard so many wonderful things about the professors up there at the time, that it was kind of an easy choice. I got to stay here; I didn't have to move somewhere and have to pay out-of-state tuition. But I think my biggest draw was that Paul Davis was up there, and my high school teacher had said “you just have to go up there and study with him, you guys would click.” So I went up there and took as many classes as I could from him for the four years. And it made a big difference; I think that's a big reason why I'm a painter because what he said made so much sense and made it all come together for me.
Gavin: For those unfamiliar with your work, what are you most known for in the local art community?
Erin: It kinda depends, I feel like I'm all over the board sometimes. Anything still-life, I'm just excited to paint. I started out with food and I hear people say “oh you're the food painter!” I was doing cupcakes and cookies and pancakes, a little bit of everything food, I was just crazy about it. That turned into books because I had done some cookbooks that turned into a series of books. Then for a show up in Park City I did an industrial series, so I did big tools and oil rigs. And somehow that turned into what was next… Shoes! I guess I'm not sure how they all come together, but I guess I'm always taking photos and notes and anything really that just tickles me. I just make a note and make a point to paint it that year. Like the shoes I was really so excited to paint them to where it turned into nineteen paintings, so it just goes until I get tired of it I guess.
Gavin: Cool. What's your take on the local art scene here, both good and bad?
Erin: It's been wonderful for me; I do the festivals during the summer and then shows like this during the year. Finch Lane, Kayo Gallery, places like that, so I have just loved it. I do think it's better elsewhere, but I don't have much to compare it to since I've just stayed local. You hear the complaints that we're not a real progressive art market, but it's worked for me so I'm not complaining yet. Talk to me in another couple years on that, but for now it's working out.
Gavin: So then what's your take on Gallery Stroll and how it's evolved over the years?
Erin: I think it's great and I think it's getting better and better. You see bigger crowds it seems each month, and during the summer it's just insane to try and follow it around, which is such an exciting time because you get to meet the painters and they get to meet their buyers. It's a more interactive time than just going to a gallery, which if you go on a Wednesday afternoon it can get kinda stuffy and intimidating. But I think Gallery Stroll opens it up and I think they've done a wonderful job of advertising it where you can look it all up on one site. I think it's just become much more accessible which is exciting, and it's wonderful for the artists. I think buyers really like that relationship if they get to meet the artist, it really makes a difference, and we always want to meet our buyers. I've loved it, I think it's great.
Gavin: Tell us about tonight's exhibit you have here.
Erin: This is one of those that just snowballed completely; it's seventeen paintings of shoes. And I was thinking it was funny that they're all two feet tall, but not everyone has seen how funny that is. It started out last year, a couple of years ago I did a couple of shoes and loved them so I came back to that and started this series which was just going to be eight. Then I talked to Shilo and found out it was a one-person show and so it turned into seventeen as soon as I could.
Gavin: So you just scrambled to find as many as you could?
Erin: The first eight were mine, so that wasn't a problem. But when I knew I was going to double it I called people I knew so then I was borrowing people's shoes. So that was fun. Hopefully them come and get to see their shoes here.
Gavin: Anything you'd like to plug?
Erin: I have the arts festivals coming this summer, Utah and Park City in June and August. And then all my new stuff is always on my website.
Gavin: Hey Shilo. Tell us a little about yourself.
Shilo: I'm an artist, gallery owner, and full time student!
Over at University of Utah?
What have you been doing up there in that program?
Shilo: Actually I just won Best Of Show for the U of U Student Art Show, and I'm a painting and drawing major. I have four classes left, and I haven't decided if I'm going for a Masters or not. Just little steps, little hurdles at a time.
Gavin: How did you get into doing this for a living?
Shilo: The fates smiled upon me. (Laughs) Actually I started painting when I was seventeen, had a great senior high school teacher who kinda thrust me into the world of oil paints and I've loved it ever since. Kind of fell into the trap of “oh you'll never make any money as an artist”, and let that prevent me from pursuing it but I still painted. And then I decided “screw it” because I'm in this corporate day-job, everybody hates what they're doing so I'm going to do what I love. So I started out just submitting pieces to student shows and things like that, then I kinda fell into curating for the Women's Art Center. And then Kayo Gallery came up and I talked to Kenny about taking over and he was amicable to it so it all worked out. There wasn't any real plan to have a gallery, it just happened.
So you had a stint over at the Women's Art Center? What was that
Shilo: It was very brief, but it was fun. I got to curate, so I got to pick and reject artists. I have a lot of enemies now. Just kidding! I don't. ...I hope not.
Gavin: I saw you at Poor Yorick last month, what led you to getting that studio space?
Shilo: I had been painting in my basement at home and it's too easy to get distracted on little side chores and I had a friend who heard that Poor Yorick was reopening on 27th South. So she suggested that we share a studio space and I jumped at the idea, because once you're paying for a space it kinda motivates you to use it. I absolutely loved the atmosphere and being in a community setting with other artists, it was very supportive. The open studios were just a success for me and I just really admire what Brad has done with that space.
How long had you been there?
Shilo: I was there for two years, and I just recently moved to Kayo because I've got this great studio space in the back. I miss it, it's totally melancholy. But I've subleased my space so if I'm lonely here I can kick that artist out and go back.
Gavin: So how did you take over ownership of Kayo?
Shilo: Kenny decided that he wanted to be a fulltime artist and move to New York, of all places, to do it. Which is kinda strange because it's the most expensive city in the U.S. to be a starving artist. I actually looked at moving the Women's Art Center here, and when that wasn't feasible I talked to him about taking over his space and keeping it Kayo since he had already established a respectable progressive art gallery here in Salt Lake, and I had really liked what he started and wanted to continue it. It worked out great for both of us, he's happy that it's still going on and I'm happy to have it.
Gavin: There's recently been trouble on Broadway about live acts performing, and I guess you're one of the ones to have suffered the wrath recently What happened with that here?
Shilo: Apparently someone was complaining about the live music and graffiti that's been happening on our little block, and fingers were pointed at Red Light. Which how can Red Light be responsible for graffiti and tagging? It absolutely makes no sense. So they came over here to ask us about our neighbors, and we love them, it's been fantastic having them and it's a business that Salt Lake needs, it's the only thing of it's kind here. And we were a little too forthcoming about saying that we have bands here too, and so we got busted in the process as well. However we have applied for a business license to have live music so hopefully it won't be an issue. I know they had a problem with it being in their basement with fire hazards and such, but we have all of our bands up here so that won't really be an issue. We'll see what happens. They haven't sent us the Cease & Desist like they did Red Light.
Gavin: Aside from tonight's piece, what other stuff have you done recently with Kayo?
Shilo: I took over in January and I've got 2008 lined up and I'm starting to book shows for 2009. I'm recruiting artists from out of state which I'm really excited about. It's going to be a great lineup, I'm trying to raise the bar for Kayo and so far it seems like everybody's impressed.
Any hints you want to give as to what's coming up soon?
Shilo: Fabulousness, Funtasticness, Incredible Art!
Gavin: So what's your take on the local art scene, both good and bad?
Shilo: I think it's progressing, I think it's kind of coming into it's own which is nice. Gallery Stroll is drawing crowds and it seems to be getting stronger and stronger. Broadway is a really popular area which is nice, especially since Sugarhouse is torn down and downtown is gone as well. I think people need to come out and support their local artists and local businesses more.
Gavin: A little more in depth, what's your opinion on Gallery Stroll and how it's progressed over the years?
Shilo: Oh I think it's fantastic. I think the people in charge of the Salt Lake Gallery Association are doing a great job of promoting it. We actually just joined in January so we're a part of that group now. It's respected and it's getting noticed and it's a fun thing to do every third Friday of the month.
Gavin: Nice. Is there anything you think could be done to make the art scene bigger here?
Shilo: More artists, maybe even from out-of-state. I think we do a good job of promoting local artists, but there's not a lot of draw for art outside of the state, which is one of the things I'm trying to focus on as well. I'm bringing in artists from San Francisco and Kansas City, Missouri. One from Philadelphia later this year. There's not really a venue right now where outside artists come, except for the Museum Of Fine Arts, which really isn't on our level. (Laughs)
Gavin: One day.
Shilo: One day, yeah! So yeah, that's what I'm trying to do with Kayo is set the bar a little higher and bring in some outside popular artists to Salt Lake.
Gavin: Anything you wanna plug?
Shilo: Bingo Tuesday! Come out every Tuesday, we have Bingo Night! And then this summer we've got a Cupcake Social and a Children's Fair. We're just going to try little street-crafty things for the summer to bring people out onto Broadway and promote the local businesses. So check out our websites and our ads in City Weekly and SLUG.