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West Valley City Journal

‘Tree Stories’ exhibit—a breath of fresh air and art

Feb 23, 2022 08:01PM ● By Addie Hunsaker

By Addie Hunsaker | [email protected]

In the past 15 years, the West Valley Arts has successfully presented 150 exhibits, primarily found at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. In sponsorship with Utah Humanities and The Museum on Main Street Program, they have presented the public with dynamic exhibits and traveling exhibits from places like the Smithsonian. Many exhibits have also been locally curated with a focus on Utah’s diversity in tradition and natural resources.

The program doesn’t only display art but encourages the community to create their own as well. 

“For several years people have known the Cultural Center as a gathering place, but we are here looking at ourselves as more of servants, serving events in the arts and cultural community. All of this is to better people’s lives, to be the provider for arts and cultural exchange in the community,” said Mike Christensen, the visual arts program manager at West Valley Arts.

West Valley Arts provides a spotlight to local cultures and artists of all ages they may not have otherwise. “This is a place ready to welcome where you came from and celebrate your own heritage but also learn about the traditions of your neighbors,” Christensen said. Besides being a hub for art and cultural exhibits, West Valley Arts also serves as an art partner to Granite School District, Salt Lake Community College, the University of Utah and Westminster. West Valley Arts invites students to experience art in a new way, through an educational program called Artrageous, a virtual resource for teachers. Artrageous calls on community experts in different fields and gives a space for them to tell their story, and then ties art activities into the lesson to enhance learning, allowing students to express what they have learned in a fun creative way.

On March 10, West Valley Arts will open a new exhibit, “Tree Stories: A Breath of Fresh Air,” in collaboration with Tree Utah, curated by Dan Cummings. “Tree Stories” pulls together new pieces from over 45 different artists who work in various mediums. Camera Closet, a partner of West Valley Arts, will be presenting an exhibit from a couple of years ago called “Lovely as a Tree.” Pottery from Red Kiln gathered by Randy Lyle, jewelry, and other locally crafted pieces will be available to view as a part of the Bridge Gallery.

In the plaza of the cultural center there will also be pieces from students at the Granite School District as well as a senior component from the Harmons Senior Center in a reflection of their “Branching Out” project.

West Valley Arts invites people to participate in a poetic reflection of the exhibit and what inspires them on March 10. Susan Klinker, the educational program manager at West Valley Arts, has put together a poetry workshop for people to respond to the earth and to the habitat along the Jordan River which is right outside the cultural center. Klinker invites participants to then submit their work to be hung in the plaza level as part of the educational exhibit.

On Friday, April 22, the exhibit will close with an earth celebration. “We realized that the closing of the exhibit happened to fall on Earth Day. We have invited Samba Fogo to perform a return dance, which will encircle the honoring of the elements of nature and establish a wish of healing the land by planting a tree literally through dance,” Klinker said. This celebration will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at 3100 S. 1355 West.