Posted // 2013-07-11 -
There's been a bit of a dropoff in the experimental arts as of late, and it didn't help things any with the loss of both Kayo and Nox Contemporary galleries this month, but that's starting to change with one particular project. The Art Haus SLC is a brand-new nonprofit experimental concept that combines various forms of visual media and art into traveling and sometimes interactive exhibits, taking the average art show and turning it into an experience. The trio behind the project offers workshops and educational programs, as well as an array of opportunities for those involved with local arts to take part in the extraordinary mayhem.
Today, I chat with all three of the women behind The Art Haus SLC about their respective careers and getting involved with the arts, creating the nonprofit, the projects they've worked on so far, exhibits and other projects to expect down the road and more. (All pictures courtesy of Art Haus SLC.)
Anne Wright, Sara Moncivais & Jendar Morales
Gavin: Hello, ladies. First thing, tell us a bit about yourselves.
Anne: My name is Anne ... well, my given name is Andrea but it never felt like me so I changed it to Anne when I was 12. I’m half Puerto Rican on my mother’s side and half American. I grew up in Sandy and lived there until I left for college. I studied art history at Wellesley and after graduation moved to New York and worked for a nonprofit there called Studio In A School that places trained artists in public schools to work with underserved populations. I loved the work that we did and wanted to further my own knowledge of what great arts education looks like so I chose to apply to the Arts in Education program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Now, I work with two awesome ladies on The Art Haus SLC.
Jendar: First of all, my name is Jendar and I really love my name. My parents made it up by combining their names “Jenny” and “Dario.” Growing up, people would tell me it sounded like a name out of Star Wars;later on, I found out it is actually in the Star Wars dictionary. I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and lived there until 18, when I moved to the States to go to college. Having grown up in Puerto Rico, I was exposed to Latin American, American and European influences, which made me have a cosmopolitan view of the world. I grew up in a family of musicians and artists. I started writing poetry at the age of 6, and studied ballet and opera for many years. It was during a visit to Le Musee de Louvre in Paris as a teen that I became interested in the visual arts and knew that the arts would always be a part of my life.
Sara: When I think about the first thing people might notice about me, I imagine it would be that I like to have a lot of fun and prefer to joke around when I first meet people. I also have to say, an important part of my personality is my need to tell people what to do. I love telling people what to do, and am even more thrilled when people actually do what I tell them to do.
Gavin: What got each of you interested in art, and what were some early influences on you?
Jendar: My dad is a professional musician, so I grew up listening to his trumpet playing every single day of my life. One of my earliest memories is of my dad practicing his trumpet while watching ballet on PBS. I was probably around 2 or 3 years old; I remember being hypnotized by it. After that, my parents bought me a tutu, which I wore every single day for a year.
Sara: I was one of those dorky theatre kids growing up, but I was also very athletic and a bit of an old soul -- read: dramatic. This, basically, played into how I interacted in the arts because I was immediately drawn to incredibly physical performance around classical works. I also associated mostly with adults who thought very highly of myself and my peers and would give us a lot of leeway with projects we wanted to work on. So from the time I was about 14 or 15, I was adapting novels, like The Picture of Dorian Gray, for experimental performance and the local theater would give me a fully supported night to show the work. I also used to paint and dance, so I would look at creating a performance a lot like painting a picture-- lots of focus on balance, lighting and symbolism. All of this dorkiness was completely encouraged, and I have to say most of my influences were really local. The people in the local art community I grew up in definitely influenced me more than any professional in the industry and they still do. At the moment, I'm also quite thrilled by anything Eastern European. I trained with a Polish theater company and the director started by saying to me, "You're used to democracy but now you are in Poland and you do what I say." and I thought, "sooooooooooo coooooooooool."
Anne: Growing up in Salt Lake City, my mother always made sure we attended some sort of cultural or arts activities in the area. She’d grown up in Brooklyn and had always enjoyed those types of activities, so it was only logical that she’d try to soak up as much of it in Salt Lake as she could. And I loved it! When I was 3, I was enrolled in dance classes; by age 7, I started piano lessons. And every summer, my mother would take us to every art or cultural festival that was advertised. My favorite was the Kismet festival with all the belly dancers and baklava -- I honestly think it was the baklava that drew my mother to every Middle Easter/Greek festival, restaurant, event and how I got started as a belly dancer myself. As far as becoming interested in studying visual art, it’s, of course, a passionate high school teacher in my AP art history class who opened up a whole other world for us; Shout out to Mrs. Hughes! I’d never been to an art museum before our trip to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, where I interned a coupleof years later during the summer between my sophomore and junior year. I remember having to write a short paper about one of the works of art I had viewed and I was hooked. I took in everything she taught us like candy, but I never got sick of it. Her passion was infectious and I think I received a perfect score on the final AP exam. I loved how artists chose to represent an idea or an event through a combination of shape, light, line, color and texture.
Gavin: Starting with you Jendar -- you studied various arts outside of the U.S., especially musical and performance arts. What got you interested in that and what made you pursue that as a career?
Jendar: I started studying ballet at the age of 6. I later transitioned to opera at 13, which I studied for seven years. Although I did not become a professional ballet dancer or opera singer, the exposure to these artistic expressions taught me how to better appreciate the arts and things with cultural value. While in college, I was having a really hard time choosing a degree because I love so many things. So, I decided to study humanities. As a sophomore, I found myself living in Paris, and while at the Musee de Louvre I was reminded once again of how much I love the arts, so I went ahead and chose an art-history emphasis. Although I don’t consider myself an artist, I feel like my education has helped me to develop a good eye for art, as well as a strong desire in educating people about them.
Gavin: You received a master's from New York University. What made you choose NYU, and what was it like for you going through its program?
Jendar: Other than the fact that NYU is a fantastic university, I chose to go there because of its location in one of the cultural capitals of the world. I have always had a special affinity for NYC since my father worked there as a musician for a few years and since some of the artists whom I admire the most come from there. My master’s degree was in museum studies, so being in NYC, which has some of the most important museums in the world, allowed me the opportunity to intern at some of these museums and learn from amazing museum/gallery professionals.
Gavin: What brought you to Utah, and what's keep you here working in the arts?
Jendar: I came to Utah when I was 18 years old for my bachelor’s degree. After graduating, I ended up in NYC for a few years. Then when I was back visiting SLC for a friend’s wedding, I realized what an amazing place this is. I also noticed the need for more art spaces and opportunities for artists to share their work with the community. I have always wanted to start a community art space but thought I wouldn’t attempt that until after working in the arts world for a few years. After a serious of events, I moved to SLC over a year ago and started, with the help of Sara and Anne, The Art Haus SLC.
Gavin: Sara, you studied both at Brigham Young University, as well as the Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. What was it like transitioning between both colleges, and what was your experience like at both?
Sara: I guess the first thing I'd have to say is that BYU has a great theatre department but it really doesn't compare to anything that is happening at Central. BYU keeps it pretty academic and, I think, works a lot from Stanislavsky. Central is a tiny hub-- a performing-arts conservatory-- and all 700 or so students there are in the performing arts and are extremely serious about the work. The school generates a ton of current research and is pretty experimental. All of the courses at Central demand a more well-rounded performer than a lot of my experience at BYU required. A lot of this is just the difference between American training and British. The Brits also have a huge emphasis on movement, so I'm immediately partial to them. At Central, devised works are common across all the degree strands, which is to say that the students would develop the show -- story, text, movement, set, etc. -- as an ensemble and would premiere new works regularly. It is also in London, so there are a lot of opportunities to take shows to festivals and to tour them internationally or show them in the West End so the work that is created is kind of expected to be shown on that level. A lot of the productions students created would be current and political, very classical, or experimental, so there was a huge range of work happening. There was a lot of movement-based work, a department for puppetry, a department for devising new work and departments for experimental ensemble theater, etc. The audience was also more receptive to various productions in London, so there was a lot more freedom in what the school could perform in that regard. I remember once we performed Fuente Ovejuna at BYU and in the story this town, basically, revolts and literally tears apart the governor because he has been raping the town's women. Some people thought mentioning rape was inappropriate so the town ripped a guy to pieces because he had insulted the women. Coming from a place like BYU, I was constantly asking, "Why are we doing this? What experience are we giving the audience?" which wasn't really a common question at Central. I really think coming from both schools taught me a lot about respecting an audience and not doing anything for shock value, but also taught me about respecting the work enough to not skirt away from intense topics.
Gavin: You had a hand in founding both the NYC Performance Collective and the Vail Youth Ballet Company, as well as being movement director for some smaller theater companies. What was that time like for you being heavily involved with theater and, essentially, dictating what these organizations performed?
Sara: Like I mentioned earlier, I get a huge thrill out of people doing what I tell them to. I enjoy performing but it doesn't have the same satisfaction as directing. Movement directing is a pretty European practice and really suits my preferences perfectly. As the movement director, you are involved closely with the artistic director but your main concern is with the physical movement and the actors' bodies, which gives the artistic director the opportunity to focus on drawing together all the other production elements --story, lighting, set, sound, etc. -- and allows me the opportunity to create physical montages and work on the performers' bodies. Working between smaller theater companies is a great experience, but is also really taxing at the same time. I'm a big believer in physical ensemble training, and when you skip around from company to company, you don't really have the opportunity to develop that. Someday, I'd love to have my own theater company that trained and devised together. One small project I really enjoyed working on was with an ensemble in London that had eight people playing about 30 characters. We did a lot of work on creating distinct physical bodies for each character, and by the end the physical transitions among characters were really satisfying. NYC Performance Collective was pulled together from my interest in researching my own training techniques and experiencing the techniques of other physical-theater artists in the city. It was really a great opportunity to continue training and to network. We starting devising work right before I left New York and will, hopefully, be able to keep networking and supporting each other while I'm abroad, as well as when I go back. Some cool collaborations have come from the collective's meetings, and I've been able to experience a lot of people's work develop and really take off. If anything, I learned from the collective how important it is to just go for an idea when you have it and to not let anything hold you back.
Gavin: What brought you back to Salt Lake City, and what are you currently involved with today?
Sara: I don't live in SLC and probably won't be making a move back there at any point, but I do love going back to try and get some workshops or quick performances in. I'm currently prepping to go to India, where I'll research and share my own work with some contemporary-dance-theater practitioners and some traditional Kalaripayattu -- so ... Indian martial art -- and Kathakali dance theaters. I'm planning on coming back to America to offer some workshops at small colleges or arts schools, where we will train and devise work. I'll probably aim for a Ph.D back in the U.K. after that.
Jendar: What I love about SLC is that it is a young city with lots of creative types. Many people whom I’ve met here are interested in the arts or are artists themselves in at least one discipline. Although we are not NYC or L.A., or like any other big city, so many great things are happening here. The art scene is definitely moving faster than ever, starting with Utah’s first biennial happening this summer, and with the opening of Contemporary Utah Arts Center in SLC. I wanted to be part of this growth and that is why Sara, Anne and I chose SLC as the place for our project.
Gavin: Anne, you've taken on more of the educational side of things. What got you interested in that field?
Anne: As I mentioned, I worked for one of the largest visual-art-education nonprofits in New York City, Studio In a School, for four years before going back for a graduate degree in education. When I first moved to New York, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I worked for a civil-engineering firm and then moved over to property management. Neither was that interesting, but I was paying off student loans and enjoying the city. It so happened that on a trip to the Guggenheim museum, I walked through an exhibit of children’s art from the Learning Through Art program. I was stunned at the idea that some 9-year-old’s work was hanging in a museum in a gallery next to where Picasso and Klee were displayed. I thought about how that child must have felt seeing his/her work in this giant museum in Manhattan and what that would mean to them for the rest of their life. So, six months later, I found Studio and applied to every opening they had and got the job. Some of my most memorable experiences are much like that first one, realizing the impact that the arts had on these young individuals. I also enjoyed working with arts educators within the NYC Department of Education. There were times when I was the only individual who had stepped into their art room to observe their work. I was glad to lend support to them, both in terms of bringing quality art supplies to them as they field tested some of our curriculum and being there to see what they were doing and the challenges they faced. All of those experiences challenged my thinking of arts education and what it meant to create a quality arts program in formal or even informal learning environments. So, I decided to apply for the Arts in Education program at Harvard and look at the theory underlying the experiences I’d had working at Studio. It was a difficult program, and at time I felt like I was swimming in information. But, through that I also found a niche of how technology impacts learning, and would like to continue in my field by using technology as a learning tool in the arts-education process. I’m still working on finding that right position here on the East Coast while I also work with Jendar and Sara on The Art Haus SLC.
Gavin: You attended Harvard University Graduate School of Education. What was it like getting into its program and what was your time like there?
Anne: The first and hardest challenge was passing the math section of the GRE. Ask Sara who lived with me at the time; I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in my life! Once I’d hurdled over that barrier with an average score, the rest was challenging but far more rewarding. If I never have to calculate the mass of an irregular shape again, it’ll be too soon. In all honesty, the most challenging part of being at Harvard was balancing between the ideal world of arts ed that we were studying about versus the current landscape of education. I found myself frustrated so many times that what scholars were writing about didn’t match what I had seen in my own practice. It took many conversations with colleagues and professors to finally soften that perceived contradiction with the idea that I would be part of the next generation of educators who would work on the bridge toward a better system. I was also the only person in my cohort of arts educators who tackled the idea of using emerging technologies in our practice. I interned with a mobile-app company here in Cambridge to see how they were using their tech app in educational environments -- more specifically, I worked with a person who used their app in museums. That, in conjunction with another course, I spent a lot of time researching how mobile technology is and can impact arts education. I hope I have more opportunities with both TAHSLC and other organizations to begin utilizing new and emerging technologies as we build toward better learning goals in arts education.
Gavin: Prior to the Art Haus, you'd had some experience working with education in the arts. What was that time like for you?
Anne: I think I shared some of that earlier, but to expand on that, I loved my time working with Studio In A School. After a year working as the assistant to the president, I found myself working on three of four components to a major grant that was to effect change in the broader system by realizing a document recently published called The Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the visual arts. Basically, our program was actually creating standards-based units based on this framework, publishing the units online, demonstrating them in events for educators across the city and then field testing our work to make sure it could be replicated. I enjoyed that project so much because I got to work with educators of all types: administrators, teachers, art teachers, artists, students, programmers, curriculum editors, the former head of the Office of the Arts at NYC DOE and everyone on our staff. It was a huge undertaking and we hit many a road lock along the way. But, to see what progress we were making and the wonderful art that was coming out of the schools we worked with was amazing.
Gavin: When did the three of you all meet and become friends?
Sara: I met Jendar at a friend's waffle night at BYU, where we in fact talked about art, and we connected again in New York a year or so later. Anne and I were roommates in NYC, and we used to have long conversations where I would count how many times she said "advocate for the arts." It was always a lot.
Jendar: I met Sara years ago at a friend’s waffle party in Provo. A year later, we reconnected in NYC and became friends instantly because of our love for the arts, dancing, yoga and falafel. I met Anne through Sara at a storytelling event in the East Village. At that point, Anne was getting ready to move to Boston to get her master’s in arts education at Harvard and Sara was leaving for London. Luckily, we reconnected again after they both finished their degrees.
Anne: Sara and I lived together for a while on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and I think I met Jendar the first time at a Moth
event in the East Village. Sara and I both left for graduate school around the same time and would up reconnecting on a trip to Puerto Rico for a friend’s 30th. Sara and I started talking about what we’d both studied in school, and she was telling me about a grant she and Jendar, who happened to be in PR at the same time, were working on. I started giving her some of my own ideas and she asked me to help them out a bit on the grant. The more I talked with them about the project they were working on and the nonprofit they were starting, the more interested I became in helping them because, as I saw it, the programs would benefit the SLC community, the same community that had given me many opportunities growing up. But, I also wanted to contribute more opportunities for the next generations growing up there, so I sort of pushed my way into this little organization.
Gavin: How did the idea of Art Haus SLC come about?
Jendar: The idea of The Art Haus SLC kind of started during a visit to my brother in Madrid. While there, I visited a few art spaces that I was fascinated with. One of them was called El Matadero, which is a contemporary-art center offering art exhibitions and programming for the community, for no cost. This center has an exhibition space, a library, a garden, free Wi-Fi and is open until late. I remembered going in there and seeing people of all ages, hanging out there, looking at the art, talking about what they were seeing and how it affected them by just being surrounded by it. I felt a bit like I was in heaven -- for an artist. I also visited a similar space in Madrid called La Casa Encendida. I just thought how amazing it would be to start a similar thing in a town or community with a need for more arts. Although The Art Haus SLC has evolved from the idea of having an actual physical space, the desire to bringing art shows and programming and resources to the SLC is still there.
Sara: Jendar was talking to me when I was in London about how she wanted to start an art center in New York and she had a five-year plan; I said it sounded great and I would love to be involved when it happened. A few weeks later, she started g-chatting with me about how she didn't want to wait five years and she didn't want to do it in New York. I was still completely on board.
Gavin: Rather than focus solely on local audiences, one of your goals is to make local appealing to audiences beyond Utah. What made you decide to go that direction?
Jendar: The fact that Sara and I are not from Utah, and that Anne currently lives in Boston, makes us want to connect with audiences from other cities. I love the idea of having local artists work and connect with artists from Puerto Rico or from NYC or elsewhere. Anne and Sara are very interested in using technology to accomplish these. Even though we still haven’t been able to build to that point, it’s something we are considering and talking about how we might accomplish that.
Anne: Again, I think Jendar or Sara might have more to say on this. I came into the project to help with using technology toward broadening our audience through the use of technology and offered my experience towards that goal.
Gavin: What made you decide to make it a free-floating entity rather than find a permanent location in SLC?
Anne: I think this evolved less out of a planned idea and more that it was difficult to find a permanent location. But, it has created some very cool programs, like our Art in the Living Room or Art on Wheels projects. We love the idea that we can take arts experiences to anywhere by not having a permanent location. We’ll see what happens as we move forward.
Sara: I think we are all pretty ambitious and are maybe still too interested in pursuing our own training and education to settle into one place yet so, for me, having a space doesn't make much sense. I think at first Jendar was wanting to create a space but has maybe come around since then? I also think, for me personally, I am much more drawn to the idea of bringing art to unique spaces, which we have had to do since we don't have a permanent location. I'm not big on doing anything just because it is how things have been done before. I think that the world is really fluid and that more and more is happening online and in pop-up spaces and I want TAHSLC to experiment with these ideas and to perhaps be forced to be more innovative because we don't have a space than we might be otherwise. I know I am intrigued by the idea of making TAHSLC even more of an online project, and I have a lot of ideas for making this happen that I hope we will put into practice this fall. I love live performance and small community-arts organizations, but I'm also interested in how the Internet and technology can expand communities and I would like to explore that.
Jendar: We decided to do it as a free-floating entity first of all, because we all have different projects going on at different places. Although I moved back to SLC to start The Art Haus, and I have been having a blast working with local artists and the local community, I am also interested in working with other communities. I would like to start an Art Haus in San Juan, where I am from, or maybe even in Detroit, where the art scene is growing very fast, or who knows where else. Originally, I liked the idea of an actual physical space to create a contemporary-arts center similar to the one I visited in Madrid, but for that to happen we need LOTS of funding and support. Although I am not opposed to that idea, I also like the flexibility that we have of organizing events at different locations around the city, therefore attracting different communities within the city.
Gavin: What was it like starting up the Art Haus last year, and what were some of your first projects?
Sara: There were a lot of Skype meetings and Google hang-outs and then a lot of spreadsheets that Anne created and a lot of projects where we, basically, told Jendar to forget her social life and to be the one who got everything rolling. Fundraising was a big project. It's really difficult to be part of the work from so far away, so I've, basically, felt more like a consultant than anything else. I was able to come in and offer a workshop in physical theater, to work on our dance-a-thon -- what a great bust! -- and to put on a small interactive performance a few weeks ago. Jendar has been a gem at getting people involved and interested.
Jendar: Starting The Art Haus SLC last year was very fun but very challenging. I had no idea of what I was doing, and I still have no idea; I am just learning as it goes. I have made mistakes on the way, but that is part of the process, and I am just trying to have fun with it. We only have a very small budget, which is frustrating at times, but it also makes us be more creative in coming up with interesting programs for very little cost. Because of our small budget, neither Anne, Sara or I get paid for what we do. We just do it for the love of the arts and the SLC community. Hopefully, someday, we can do this full-time. Our first program was a psychophysical theater program taught by Sara. She came all the way from NYC to teach this workshop and was great. After that, we started our program Art in the Living Room, which has been very successful. This program consists of having an art show in somebody’s living room for one evening. This program has been great because not only it is very inexpensive to put together, but it attracts a different audience from the ones that usually go to art openings in SLC. A lot of people are extremely intimidated by museums and galleries, but those same people may feel a lot more comfortable looking at art in somebody’s cozy living room while talking to friends and eating treats. We have had three Art in the Living Room shows and are planning to have more as long as we keep finding living rooms in downtown SLC. Our other program is Art on Wheels, which is a moving truck that we turn into an art gallery for one evening. Once again, it is pretty inexpensive to put together, and people are fascinated by the idea of going inside an ugly looking truck to find an awesome work of art. Also, the mobility aspect of this program is great, as we can bring this gallery truck to different neighborhoods of the city. So far, we have parked it at the same location of Second South and second East, but we are looking to take it to other neighborhoods, as well.
Anne: It was definitely a bit of a challenge, and we relied on many sources outside of the Salt Lake area to start this up. We chose to go with fiscal sponsorship with Fractured Atlas out of NYC to help us with some of our resources and sending out grants. Really, our first project was our Kickstarter campaign that we launched right around the time that we launched our website and our brand. It was particularly challenging to launch two huge things at the same time, and if we had to do it again I would give ourselves more time.
Gavin: What was the reaction like from local patrons who both checked them out and took part?
Anne: Again, I will defer to Jendar and Sara, who have been present for most of our projects.
Jendar: So far, we have gotten a very positive reaction from the community. People love Art in the Living Room, and every time we have one of those, somebody comes up to express how great and unique an idea it is. Those who let us borrow their living rooms love to see their homes turning into art spaces for one night. And the artists whose work is featured love people’s reaction to their work and the space. The same can be said about Art on Wheels. The first one, which just happened in April, featured an installation and performance by Morganne Wakefield. People were so excited to come into this truck. We had planned to have the truck open from 7-10 p.m., but we ended closing after 11 p.m. because people wouldn’t leave; it was great. We just want to keep bringing art to unique spaces around the city, from abandoned storefronts to parking lots, warehouses, etc. We’d like to find spaces that are unique and can capture the interest of many people walking by.
Sara: It's very different than working with audiences from New York and London, but there is a real eagerness to the people I've encountered when I've come to town. Maybe the audiences aren't as big, but the people who do come are pretty interested in the work we are offering.
Gavin: How is it working together with two of you here operating things and one of you in Massachusetts working behind-the-scenes?
Jendar: I am the only one who is currently living in SLC while Anne is in Boston and Sara is all over the world teaching physical theater and yoga. It has not been easy for all of us to be at different locations while trying to start this project in SLC but we are doing it. God bless the Internet.
Sara: I guess this is again a good point to really give Jendar kudos. I try to be a good sounding board for possible production problems, and Jendar and I are really good at playing devil's advocate with each other to work problems out. Anne is great with logistics. Sometimes, we will get an e-mail, where she has caught something both Jendar and I have missed and it is always at the right time. Really, we are a pretty good balance for each other.
Anne: We use a lot of technology to communicate between each other. We might be the only people using Google Hangouts regularly for our meetings. We also use Google Docs to keep everyone together on projects and sharing our writing for grants. Then lots of e-mails, texts and phone calls in between. Since I am the one in Massachusetts, it’s been hard not to be at many of the projects we’ve launched. I flew out last year for one of our fundraisers and actually performed, as well. But, I’m generally the one setting up our spreadsheets, project management to keep everything straight,and all of those little things that I can do from a distance. It’s difficult but manageable to work at a distance now with all the technology available to us.
Gavin: Who are some local artists that you’ve worked with since starting, and how have they been an influence to the work you're doing?
Jendar: Some of the local artists we have worked with are Michelle Christensen, Sarah May, Phil Cannon, Adam Munoa, Morganne Wakefield and Camila Nagata, among others. They are all incredible artists and just a small example of the amazing art scene here in SLC. They have all been very willing to work with our small organization, and have been very flexible to work with a small budget. Their love for the arts and the SLC community is contagious and has helped us to want to keep moving forward.
Gavin: Another element you started was the Art On Wheels truck that has been in downtown neighborhoods. Where did that idea come from and what's it like driving that around on art nights?
Anne: Jendar, Sara and I challenged each other to come up with one project each and present it to each other during one of our many Hangout sessions in January. I actually came up with the idea as a bit of a joke on myself. I’d spent so much time researching “mobile technology” that I had the thought, 'What if we went mobile ... but not via phone or tablet or Internet, just literally putting our stuff in a truck and schlepping around the city?' I had been researching mobile food trucks for yet another one of my passions -- maybe an artisanal hot chocolate food truck? -- and realized that there were very few examples of an art truck being used anywhere. There were a couple of museums, a printmaking truck and some guys who do graffiti art in NYC, but beyond that not much. And we’d talked a lot about not yet having a permanent space, so it seemed like a really good fit. Plus, when I looked into the cost of renting a truck, it was so cheap and fit well into our budget. When I was in Utah last fall for our fundraiser, Jendar and I went on the Gallery Stroll the night before our event, and I, of course, had to check out the food trucks that had set up outside of some of the galleries. I have a bit of an obsession with food trucks. When I thought about using a U-Haul for our next project, I remembered those food trucks outside of the galleries and thought that it would be a great idea to connect what we’re doing with an event like the Gallery Stroll. And then, eventually, we could connect with other organizations in SLC that had other events, such as the Farmers Market, and feature a different artist at that location. The ideas were sort of endless, and it’s a really sustainable idea at a very low overhead. We applied for a mini-grant to fund our project, but, unfortunately, didn’t get what we were requesting. We had a little money left from out Kickstarter campaign and scaled the project back a bit to be able to run it. We ran our first one in April with Morganne Wakefield as the featured artist, and then Sara came up with Impressions using this format in May. We’re still thinking of other locations and events where we can connect our idea with an artist and a forum. We’d love any feedback from those reading the article who might be interested in us coming to them for an event.
Gavin: On the educational end, what steps have you taken to bring more awareness to the community beyond exhibitions? And are there any plans to interact with colleges or K-12 schools in the future?
Anne: We tried to reach out to one of the local high schools and raise money to begin a program there, but, unfortunately, we were met with some resistance. We’ve learned from that experience that in order to reach out to schools, we’d have to find the right type of program to connect with them. For now, it’s on our radar, but we have not pursued any further connections with K-12 at this time.
Sara: I had wanted to create a program to bring some performance programs into schools, and had some long talks with the education outreach department at the school district. Unfortunately, there isn't any funding available through the school district, and we haven't been successful in securing any grants for this particular project. It would be great and I am all about finding a way to make it happen, but the money just isn't there. I really started with some big ideas for TAHSLC that were pretty quickly thinned out because of funding, but it is also just a good challenge to see if there is another way to offer the programs I would like to or to figure out how to beg for money to support kid's interests in the arts.
Gavin: What's the overall goal you have for the Art Haus, and what kind of an impact are you hoping to have on both our art community and those looking in from afar?
Jendar: Our goal is to bring more contemporary-art experiences to the SLC community. We will continue with our programs Art in the Living Room and Art On Wheels, and we are currently working on developing similar programs in other unique spaces. I feel like our organization is currently evolving and will always be evolving. So, I am excited to see where this journey takes us.
Sara: Again, my main goal has really morphed into figuring out how to bring more of this work into an online platform, and to discover and experiment with ways to spread the Salt Lake community to some of the international communities I'm visiting, and vice versa.
Anne: I agree with Sara in that we need to look at how to bring some of work to an online forum. With Sara traveling and me on a different coast, it would be good to have some projects that exist in the cloud rather than on the ground, for now. That will also help us to expand our audience a bit and hit more toward our goal of connecting different art communities.
Gavin: What can we expect from all of you and Art Haus SLC over the rest of the year?
Sara: I will be traveling between Europe, India and the U.S. for the rest of the year, and I am hoping to start integrating some online programs at that time. It would be great to stop in Salt Lake City again early in 2014 to do some work, but for now, my interest and my time will have to be put to work in some online art content.
Anne: I’d love to run our Art On Wheels program again, connecting with some of SLC’s other organizations so that we can reach new populations. Jendar and I have been discussing that, as she has more direct contact with artists in the area. We’ll also probably have another brainstorming session to try to live out some new programs on a limited budget. It’s been a challenge to get funding for our programs, and we haven’t even been able to budget in a salary for ourselves; all of us do this work in our spare time.
Jendar: Right now, we are taking a bit of a summer break after having three shows in a row. But, we would like to work with more artists outside of Utah. I am excited for what’s coming up this fall, so stay tuned.
Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Jendar: Visit our website
for upcoming events and come check them out! Also, feel free to donate to our organization; the more funding, the merrier.
Anne: If we run another Arts On Wheels, we’d love to be able to reach out to you and share the date and details with you. Is that appropriate?
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