It is with the utmost respect for SLUG Magazine, the staff and management that I pen my final Gallery Stroll column. I did not come to this decision lightly. It was with careful consideration, based solely on my growing personal commitments. It has been an honor to write this article for 16 years, but it is time for me to step back and open up space for the next generation of art enthusiasts to share their perspectives on this vibrant art scene.
It’s been a long ride, begging the question: How did I get here?
The year was 2000. Despite speculation, the world didn’t end, the lights didn’t go out in the city and the only walking dead on the streets were people leaving the after-after party. A charismatic, tenacious and genuine young woman named Angela H. Brown had just purchased the local counterculture publication, SLUG Magazine. Angela and I met in the hallways of the Artspace Rubber Company, an apartment complex designed to provide affordable housing for artists. From 1997 to 2004, the building and my fellow tenants were my Camelot—a place where dreams came true, a breeding ground for inspiration and an incubator for creativity.
Unbeknownst to me, my interview took place one evening as I escorted Angela and friends to a few of my favorite Gallery Stroll stops. By the end of the night, I was offered a position as the monthly gallery reviewer. I have never claimed to be an artist, and for the first few years, I didn’t even claim to be a writer. My qualifications for this job included crafting an argument, rallying people to action and digging up information—all things that have proven extremely helpful in orchestrating this column over the years.
When I began this journey I couldn’t have imagined, the opportunities I’d have—from intimate meetings in artists’ studios to interviewing the Chairperson of the National Endowments of the Arts, Jane Chu. The personal and professional growth has been invaluable. I have a mantra: “Do something that scares you every day.” Some days writing this article was scary, fighting to find the words, always concerned with ensuring that my interpretation matched the motives and message intended by the artist. Through it all, this community has remained loving and accepting.
A lot of changes have taken place. Galleries have closed and more have opened. I’ve watched as once-emerging artists solidified themselves in permanent art collections and are now mentoring the next generation of artists. I can honestly say that I have never seen Utah’s commitment to art waver. A curt but wise friend of mine once said, “The goal is to become unnecessary.” Not that I can claim any credit for our thriving Gallery Stroll—I’m just one voice—but I know people will take up where I leave and will continue to promote the richness of our art offerings. Always sign up for gallery newsletters. They will keep you in the know.
I’d like to thank Angela Brown for believing in me, to the artists who trusted me with their stories. You inspire me beyond words. To the art galleries: You truly are the scaffolding that holds the art community together—thank you!
My favorite quote is from Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Take the risk, raise your voice, find your tribe, create something you can be proud of! I haven’t closed the door on writing for SLUG. I hope to collaborate on projects when time allows, but for now, and for the last time as your Gallery Stroll columnist, Mellus OUT!