Posted // 2009-11-17 -
most of the art scene is centered in Provo, SLC, Park City and Ogden, you can
find many a gallery spread throughout the state. From the
contemporary to the classic to the collectible to even the kitsch,
there's something to be found is most every city. But one of the
galleries that's been getting some major attention in recent years
can't even be found in any major city Utah has to offer. As a matter
of fact its almost sits in the exact center of the state.
Central Utah Art Center has been keeping home in Ephraim since 1991
as a place for art to be seen by many who don't have the time or
means to make it far in any direction. Maintaining itself inside the
city's old Roller Mill, its established itself as a both a must see
gala and a community resource, not to mention an inspirational spot
for those in town or at the nearby Snow College. And with more
prominent shows now picking up attention from the art scene, the
monthly shows have started to become an almost regular tip. I got a
chance to chat with two of the men behind the gallery, board
president Adam Bateman and gallery director Jared Latimer, about the
gallery and its history along with their thoughts on local art. (Photos via Meridith Pingree and Kai Vierstra)
Bateman & Jared Latimer
Hey guys, first off, tell us little about yourselves.
I got my BFA from Brigham Young University in 2001 with an emphasis
in painting/drawing. I was accepted to Pratt Institute and got my MFA
in painting/drawing in 2003. After graduate school I moved to the
greater Cincinnati area and taught art at Miami University. I have
two children and one more on the way. Way excited about that.
I got a BA from BYU in English, Spanish minor. I also graduated
from Pratt Institute in 2003 with an MFA in sculpture. It’s where I
met Jared. After living in NYC for a while I returned to Utah and
took over at CUAC. After running it a few years I left and suggested
Jared for the job, he beat out some great competition too. I’m
now Chair of the Board and I do a lot of the curatorial work there.
I also have my own art career. I have shown my work internationally,
NYC, and elsewhere in the US. I teach as adjunct faculty at Weber
State and I am the director of Birch Creek Residency—an artist
For those who may not know, what is the Central Utah Art
CUAC is, hands-down, the best contemporary art venue in Utah. It
features artists from all over the world. It’s the only
contemporary art venue to in Utah to receive international press
coverage. Artists shown there have gone on to show in major venues
like the Venice Biennale, the Whiney Biennial, the Guggenheim Museum,
the Getty Museum, Saatchi Gallery, and many other great venues.
The Central Utah Art Center is located in Ephraim, Utah and was
created in 1991 when it moved into the newly renovated Ephraim Roller
Mill. The mill had originally been built in 1876. When it was built
it was in part of Fort Ephraim and surrounded by walls to protect the
settlement. During its 130 year history the mill was initially run by
the Relief Society of the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints and then went through several commercial owners before it was
vacant for several decades before its renovation. In the early days
of the mill, the grain processed there was sent around the world for
charity relief purposes—some was sent to China near the turn of
last century and a large amount was sent to San Francisco after the
earthquake there in 1906. Currently, the mill is used as a public art
space. It has been beautifully renovated, leaving the oolite
limestone bricks, typical of early architecture of the valley,
exposed on both the exterior and on the inside walls of the upper
level. All of the rafters and old floor joists have been left
exposed.The Central Utah Art Center (CUAC) is a non-profit art center
located in Ephraim Utah. There are two parts to the organization; a
contemporary art gallery and an art educational resource. We schedule
12 exhibits/year that showcase the work of the best Utah artists and
the best emerging/established from outside of the state. As noted in
the Mission Statement, the purpose of the CUAC is to educate Utahns
about Contemporary Art through exhibitions of artists from three
1. Sanpete artists who demonstrate a high level
of professionalism in their art;
2. Utah artists who make art in
a Contemporary genre who are emerging or well established; and
artists who are exemplary of important trends in Contemporary Art
The CUAC maintains that good education about art
starts with strong exhibitions of Contemporary Art that have
relevance in content or image to our community. Education also
includes outreach to the community in the form of classes for adults
and children, lectures and critical dialogue about art, and an
inviting, friendly environment that welcomes visitors and encourages
questions and strives to provide answers.
How did the Center get its start, and what do you attribute to its
success over the years?
The CUAC started under the leadership of Adam. He became
director in 2003 and set out to establish a recognized schedule of
leading artists from within and outside the state. Over the years
Adam worked very hard to create a brand that would, over time,
establish the CUAC place in the art world. In 2007, when I took over
the reigns, the CUAC already had a lot of momentum. Our exhibition
programming has been recognized internationally more than once. I
attribute that to a strong and specific curatorial practice that
follows and precise and strong mission statement.
Considering the location, why was Ephraim chosen for the
Adam can speak to that more specifically but I feel that our location
is our strength. Yes it becomes, at times, a bit difficult for some
to make the pilgrimage to the gallery but we are able to offer rural
Utah something completely unique. We have exhibited artists from all
around the globe. Every single one of them have been completely moved
by the beauty of the valley. From an educational perspective we are
able to bring real dollars to the valley that allows us to bring
unique art educational experiences to the young people of Sanpete County.
That’s a question I get a lot. Ephraim chose me. Although I was
raised in Ephraim, I didn’t really have plans to return there, nor
did I think it would be the best place in the world to start an art
center like that. But in a global perspective, neither is Salt Lake
City. CUAC had operated for years as a sort of local co-op sort of
gallery. It averaged about 300 visitors per year. It was going to
close, and I was offered the opportunity to take over. Realizing
that artists might think it was cool to go to a weird little small
town (that is actually awesome), I thought I’d give it a try.
Turns out that we now have between 15,000-16,000 visitors annually.
That rivals or beats any art center in the state that’s not a major
museum—we do that, and in a county of 20K.
Jared, how did you find out about CUAC, and what persuaded you to
I think it was back in 2005 Adam invited me to exhibit at the CUAC.
That was my first experience with the art center. Over the following
few years I kept tabs on the CUAC's progress. When the position of
director became available I was very excited about the opportunity to
lead this strong organization.
What's the process like in finding the artists to exhibit?
We basically try to stay as aware as possible of the art going on
around the state as well as what is going on in the much larger
Contemporary art world outside of Utah. We make it a point to travel
to major art centers, New York, Los Angeles... to stay current on
what is going on and what is new. I give Adam a lot of credit for
that part of our programming. He is constantly looking for artists
that fit within our mission.
Understanding this caliber of artist comes down to understanding
branding in the art world. One has to understand what it means to
have a show at a certain venue; what it means to be collected by
certain people; what it means to have gone to a certain MFA program,
etc. It is, of course, important to be able to identify good art and
understand it. I travel to NYC and LA at least six times a year.
While there I spend all of my time visiting galleries, attending
openings, and networking.
Who are some of the artists you've had come through over the
We have quite a resume of artists that have exhibited at the CUAC
over the past several years. Artists who have shown at the CUAC over
the last four years have been included in the Whitney Biennial, the
Venice Biennial, collected by Charles Saatchi; they have been
exhibited in the Getty Museum, Whitney Museum, Guggenheim Museum,
Saatchi Gallery, major museums in Switzerland, Germany, Iceland,
Korea, and Spain; They have shown in Deitch Projects, Mary Boone
Gallery, Freight and Volume Gallery, the Drawing Center, and many
other important New York, Los Angeles, and international venues. A
sample of past CUAC artists include:
Elizabeth Neel, Casey Jex Smith, Peter Finnemore, Rashawn Griffin,
Elizabeth Tremante, Tracy Featherstone, Sean Slemon, Matthew
Choberka, Laurel Hunter, Frank McEntire, Peter Everett, Farrar Hood,
Colin Tuis Nesbit, Sandy Smith, Alex Gross, Inga Huld Tryggvaddottir,
I understand you provide some services to the community as well. Tell us a bit about those and what made you
decide to offer those programs.
Understanding contemporary art depends on learning to understand
visual language and learning to think critically. Understanding
those things helps in all aspects of life. We’re just doing our
part. Jared is the brains behind most of the education programming.
We have a very healthy art education program. Currently our
CUAC After-School Art program is underway. It is proving to be very
popular. We had to open another section to accommodate the interest
from our community. This is very encouraging. I believe this is
important because, as it is stated in our mission statement, we
believe that education is very important. Currently all art funding
in our schools has been cut. We are the only resource our young
community has to the arts. We will continue to provide unique art
educational opportunities for our community. Other activities we are:
CUAC Summer, a summer program for kids that covers the basic art
principles and visual language. CUAC Appreciation, an after-school
program that is based around current CAUC exhibits.
What do you currently have on display this month for people to check
bad-ass show by Micol Hebron, a really well known artist based in LA.
It’s a video exhibition with some photo and sculpture.. check
Jared: Hebron is a LA-based artist who
has exhibited internationally and has been published in many art
journals. She has installed a two-projection installation entitled
“Bubble Gum Pop.” The work responds to, and comments on, the
futility of war, and how society sanitizes and inures itself to the
realities of war through mechanisms of entertainment. On one wall,
young women are seen being styled and “made up” in projected
salon-style portraits, while on an opposing wall, plays a projection
of young men having their heads shorn, as if in preparation for
military service. The ensuing youthful act of gum chewing and popping
by both the men and the women evolves into sounds of gunshots, and
A bit state-wide, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good
I am very excited about the changes at the Salt Lake Art Center. I
think that Adam Price is going to do quite a bit for the Utah art
scene. With the right curator and marketing/advertising he will be
able to strengthen the SLAC brand. I think that on the institutional
level the BYU Museum Of Art and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts are making very positive improvements
with the relatively recent hiring of Jeff Lambson and Jill Dawsey.
Lambson’s current exhibitions at the MOA are the best I have ever
seen in the state.
Adam: Not a fair question—I can’t self-edit. I’m going to address
contemporary art, not regional landscape art or Southwest Art
Magazine type art. I think that there are some good things starting
to happen. Jeff Lambson has curated two great exhibitions of
contemporary art at BYU’s MOA. His future programming appears to
be strong as well. Outside of the CUAC programming, three or four
shows done over the last ten years at the Salt Lake Art Center, the
MOA’s programming is the only thing that has really been happening
in Utah. I think that as the new director of the SLAC, Adam Price will hire a good curator and the overall
relevance and quality of the exhibitions there should improve. I’m
very hopeful about that. I’m also quite hopeful about the new
leadership at the UMFA. I think that Jill Dawsey is quite smart and
I look foreword to seeing the first exhibitions she curates. I think
that there are other good things happening as well, such as at Kayo
Gallery and Art Access Gallery, but those institutions have very
different missions and are operating on a different level, that is
also important. I think that historically, there has been a problem
in the state where the people making decisions about art, while
incredibly well-intentioned, haven’t been very educated about
contemporary art. That has led to difficulties in funding
contemporary art, in getting press coverage about contemporary art,
and exhibitions about good contemporary art, and therefore a lack of
education about it. I’m very hopeful, however, that with good
collaborative efforts, mutual trust, and ambitious exhibitions, we
can all improve what’s going on.
Anything you believe could be done to make things more
I think that there needs to be a fundamental shift in the art
exhibition programming in the state. CUAC and its board of
directors are currently developing a plan that, if implemented, would
over time assert Utah a leader in the Contemporary Art world. We are
very excited about this possibility. More to come later on
Yes, CUAC is currently working on a plan to collaborate with
organizations statewide to raise Utah’s profile nationally and
raise contemporary art’s profile in Utah. But that’s another
What's your take on the different Stroll events and how they play a
part in giving exposure?
I think that gallery strolls are, in general, a great idea. I think
that it strengthens the community.
Anytime we get anyone looking at any art, it’s a good
What can we expect from you both and the gallery the rest of this
year and going into next?
You can expect great things. Our December show is a group show of New
York-based photographers. These artists are leaders in photo
journalism and are making forays into fine art. The exhibition is
entitled “Foreign Tongue.” 2010 will open with an exhibition of
work from Josh Winegar. Josh is a recent recipient of the the Utah
Fellowship award. You can always expect innovative exhibits from
locally, nationally, and internationally recognized artists to fill
our exhibition schedule.
Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
I would like to plug our events. We open a new exhibit every 2nd Friday of the month. If you are looking for different ways to stay
connected with the CUAC you can find us on Twitter and Facebook. You
should also join our email list. You can find the link through our