Gallery Stroll: My MOCA, UMOCA

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The Salt Lake Gallery Stroll takes place the third Friday of every month. Galleries use this occasion to celebrate local and national artists with incoming shows, special receptions, artist talks and tasty treats. This month’s Gallery Stroll takes place on Nov. 15, offering a range of shows from group collaborations and retrospectives to avant-garde animations—and that’s just the shows at UMOCA this month!

The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) is a beautiful space nestled next to the Salt Palace Convention Center and Abravanel Hall at 20 S. West Temple, hosting a wealth of exhibits, art talks, films, installations and more. UMOCA strives to engage Utah’s robust art community while expanding its presence in the global art scene by hosting international, award-winning artists and offering artists in residence an exceptional visiting curator program. It’s no wonder my only stop scheduled for November’s Gallery Stroll is UMOCA.

Breathtaking landscapes, scrapbooking and polygamy are just a few of Utah’s colorful characteristics. It’s refreshing to hear the words “history of contemporary art in Utah.” In its inaugural year, Utah Biennial: Mondo Utah, on display May 10–Dec. 14 of this year, combines artifacts, collections, artist statements and collaborations to explore and celebrate Utah’s contemporary art. The title, “Mondo” meaning “the world,” is taken from a book of the same name about the folklore and eccentricities originating from our lovely state, written by Utah contemporary filmmaker Trent Harris. Look for more from Harris in January’s UMOCA lineup. Collaborators for this exhibit include the Church History Museum, the Central Utah Art Center, Summum, Wolf Productions and the Salt Lake Art Center Collection. Many lines are drawn connecting contemporary movements with artists from around the state and the world with varying cultural backgrounds, expertise and resources. The results are overwhelmingly positive and very enlightening.

In the Locals Only Gallery, in conjunction with Utah Biennial: Mondo Utah, Ogden-based collective O-Town Arts presents Creating Absence, featuring Bruce Case, Holly Jarvis, Derek Rigby and Josh Winegar, on display Aug.16–Nov. 23. The show takes familiar situations and creates an absence. A good example is Winegar’s “Folds” series, which takes common activities and adds a visual “bleep.” Whether that bleep takes place in the beginning or the conclusion, a simple movement can become strange and alien to us when the expected steps and actions are missing.

Tala Madani, painter, illustrator and animator, has no words for her humorous and disturbing illustrations and animations. Born in Iran in 1981, Madani received her MFA from Yale University School of Art in 2006. She has said that words would minimize the universality of her work. Instead of using the typical thought or word bubbles found in most comics and animations, Madani creates a global connection using bold brush strokes, visual satire and flabby, middle-aged men in absurd situations. Madani is the recipient of the 2013 Catherine Doctorow Prize for Contemporary Painting, and a sample of her animated paintings will be on display Oct. 4 through Jan. 4, 2014.

In UMOCA’s New Genres Gallery, Artists in Residence Brian Patterson, Chris Purdie, Colour Maisch, Jared Lindsay Clark, Maddison Colvin and Mary Toscano are ready to reveal what they’ve been working on over the last several months. Their collaboration, titled “Below,” will be on display Oct. 4 through Nov. 23.

All that, and you didn’t have to change parking spots. Take the opportunity to enjoy Utah’s art offerings––Gallery Stroll!

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