Square has seen its share of ups and downs in recent years, to say
the least. A formal sale in 2006, the closure of its theater and
vacating of several businesses, the shooting in 2007, not to mention
the millions shoveled into construction. At times the place looks
more like a mall from a zombie film than how it once appeared a
decade or so ago. But efforts are now underway to try to rebuild that
sense of community business it once had.
Such is the case with The Hive Gallery. Sitting up on the second level of the south building, the upstart showroom has been utilizing the space for more than just displaying art. Providing a home for Wildhorse Coffee, staging impromptu acoustic gigs, not to mention weekly poetry gatherings from whoever wants to read, the gallery itself is providing local cultural entertainment in a space that nearly became void of such things. I got to chat with gallery owner Emily Brooks Edmunds about starting the place up and her goals for the future along with thoughts on local art. Plus pictures of the place all with their current exhibition entitled “See Through My Eyes” from Lynn M. Carlson.
Emily Brooks Edmunds
The Hive Gallery on Facebook
Gavin: Hey Emily, first off, tell us a bit about yourself.
Emily: This is such an evil question for me in regards to The Hive Gallery. I am striving to create the gallery based upon its own identity. Somehow, I feel that answering questions about myself taint the view of the project itself. So, I'll leave it to the basics. I am a local business owner, creating an art gallery that focuses on a lack of focus. I guess I should say that my objective is representing an art world without boundaries.
Gavin: How did you first take an interest in art, and more specifically local art?
Emily: Well, I've had an interest in art since I was very young but, my pragmatic side guided me away from art and towards an education in Business. As for the local art scene, I was not involved in it until very recently in the last five years. Then one day I realized I wanted to jump into a new project and art was my current focus. My overall interest in art wasn't based on traditional art themes but, I wanted to see more inventive art shows in the community. Then I started to wonder why things like quilting, and cake decorating were not considered art, and how do I bring such artistry to the public? The answer is The Hive Gallery.
Gavin: What got you involved with putting together shows for Stroll?
Emily: The drive to represent the underdog.
Gavin: How were some of those first ones at Paradise Palm, and what was the public reaction to them?
Emily: The Paradise Palm shows were hugely successful for many reasons. First of all, the location on 3rd and 3rd was right in the middle of the Stroll, and secondly most of the artists had never shown their work before. So, the shows were bringing out a lot of friends and family. Plus, what better venue to show art than a beautiful store full of plants and trees?
Gavin: How did you end up displaying the artwork over at Trolley Square? And what was that like for both you and the artists to see that kind of exposure?
Emily: Paradise Palm filled up with beautiful trees and we ran out of room. As word got out that we were looking for a new home for our shows, Trolley Square offered a temporary location for Stroll events, and I jumped on it!
Gavin: How did the idea come about to start up The Hive Gallery?
Emily: The gallery stemmed from our need to expand consumer access to the artwork and more space for bigger shows. For many months the art was only showing in display windows and, nobody was available to answer questions or follow-up on sales. I quickly realized that the windows were effective, and it was time to take the next step.
Gavin: Of all the locations around town, why did you choose to stick with Trolley?
Emily: I am a huge lover of Trolley Square. I grew up in Salt Lake City, and Trolley Square is certainly a part of my fondest childhood memories. I hope we will be able to continue working at Trolley Square, and can create an eclectic art experience that will encourage our patrons to drop in regularly.
Gavin: What was it like for you first setting up the place, and were things difficult or run relatively smooth?
Emily: It was a very difficult process, and if it hadn't been for the support of a particular photographer, Matthew Rambo, I would have given up. Matt jumped on board with the project not knowing what he was in for. New businesses are very tumultuous, especially when you are working on a limited budget. I found few people willing to help, and many people willing to discourage but, Matt took everything in stride.
Gavin: What was the first open gallery like for you, and who did you bring on board to showcase?
Emily: Our first show was a mix of artists that I had been working with from the Paradise Palm shows and recent Strolls. A few artists included: Jonathon Baker, Rachael Domingo, Craig Secrist, Matthew Rambo and Jeff Hale.
Gavin: How did the decision come about to bring Wildhorse Coffee in as part of the gallery?
Emily: Wildhorse Coffee was being relocated from their current location at Trolley Square to make room for the Trolley Wing Company. Joining the two businesses seemed to make sense. In a difficult economy it's important for businesses to work together.
Gavin: You've also started doing Open Mic Nights for poetry readings. Why did you choose to do those, and what's the response been like from that community?
Emily: The initial reason was to utilize the space. I figure the gallery should represent all areas of art and if there is nothing going on in the gallery that night, then it's open for those who need it. Open Mic has now grown into a weekly event on Saturday nights from 9PM-Midnight. I have to admit, I am not a poet but, I look forward to Saturday night poetry. The variety of music and people reminds me every week why I started the gallery, and the community support has been tremendous.
Gavin: What other plans do you have in store for the gallery over the coming months?
Emily: We have all kinds of new projects ahead. June is Fashion Month, and our focus is fashion photography and fashion design. We will be having a public shoot with Jake Garn on June 25th that is open for the public to view. Then, on the 26th we will be hosting a runway show, that includes six local designers and a pre-show meet and greet session. All of our shows are family friendly, and I strongly suggest youth and students take advantage of these events. The shows offer great opportunities to ask questions, and find out about such fields as fashion photography, graphic design, merchandising and retail.
Gavin: Going local for a bit, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?
Emily: The Salt Lake art scene is growing and becoming more bold everyday. I also find that the emerging art scene seems to be embracing more daring subject matter. Of course, the galleries need to become a little more daring as well. It's not just up to the artists to be creative and talented, it's up to the galleries and the community to also, value the variety of art and artists that is available in our community.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Emily: Thinking outside of the box is the first place to start. A greater variety of shows available to the public will create a greater interest in the arts.
Gavin: What's your take on Gallery Stroll as a whole and how its doing today?
Emily: Gallery Stroll is an important event that brings our community together. Well, I guess I have to say that any event that increases art awareness is valuable to me but, the Gallery Stroll makes it so easy to view many artists in one night. The Gallery Stroll seems strong as ever, and it's encouraging to see more young kids getting out on the Stroll.
Gavin: Being a gallery owner, what's your opinion on other galleries throughout the city and how they affect the artists and the scene as a whole?
Emily: I feel that the galleries are the biggest influence on the art scene. Galleries decide what they want to promote and that is what the community gets to see. I'm trying to direct The Hive Gallery in a way that the public can decide what they want to see and we will provide it.
Gavin: What can we expect from both you and the gallery the rest of year?
Emily: The rest of the year is going to be exciting. You can expect the gallery to mature into the personality I have been trying to create for it. That personality is bold, colorful and explorative. I guess what I'm saying is we are hosting more shows that test the boundaries of art without boundaries.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Emily: Yes, next month the gallery will transform into a Fashion Hive! We will be showing fashion photography from a variety of local photographers throughout the month, hosting a photos shoot with Jake Garn June 25th, and the Runway Show June 26th! Check us out on Facebook for event invites.