Meet the Women Fostering the Arts in Central Utah
Women lead the way in Utah’s regional art galleries and exhibitions.
Note: As Utah navigates changing public health requirements, hours and operations may differ from what’s online, so it’s worth calling or checking social media before you go. This is “a time to really embrace change and hope, and adapt to new ways of doing things that can really help us step into the future in a different way,” says Anne Jespersen, who runs a gallery on Helper’s Main Street. Subscribing to a galleries’ email list, in many cases, is a great way to stay up-to-speed on updates and offers.
While Utah landscapes offer inspiring, camera-worthy vistas, there’s also growing fine arts communities tucked within Central Utah that are worth similar admiration. Helper, Torrey, Spring City and Ephraim are noteworthy as emerging arts centers. And in many of these towns, women are leading the way in fostering galleries and spaces for exhibits — a feat unheard of just a couple generations ago. (Read: “Where to See Women’s Art in Utah.”)
Here are a few noteworthy places to consider visiting virtually and in person.
What To See in Helper
For most travelers, Helper might just be a town they pass through, but since the 1990s things have started to change for this small town off Highway 6. Once a diverse mining town with thriving brothels and bars, the region’s economy turned more destitute in the 1970s and ‘80s. When a group of artists from the University of Utah purchased a building from the city on Main Street in 1996, they hoped to revitalize the community. They launched a series of workshops, which drew artists from all over the country to focus on their work where they could be free from distractions with beautiful surrounding landscapes. Since then, the arts scene has grown, and there are a number of women to thank for that. (Read: “Turning Carbon into Culture.”)
Anne Jespersen Fine Arts
Anne Jespersen was drawn to Helper when artists like David Dornan and Doug Braithwhite started offering workshops in their studio. She now owns and operates Anne Jespersen Fine Arts on Main Street, the building converted from an old grocery store. Many of the exhibitions support both the artists and The Helper Project, a nonprofit with a mission to “foster revitalization and beautification and promote cultural connections for the City of Helper,” according to the gallery’s website. “We want the growth to be sensitive to what has made the history and the community so special, and also a special place for the artists,” Jespersen says.
Visit the gallery virtually or by private appointment with precautionary health measures in place. Jespersen says they plan to reopen in August 2021 before the annual Helper Arts Festival. In the meantime consider joining the mailing list, as subscribers receive weekly artist spotlights focusing on the behind-the-scenes work and inspiration of the pieces on display. Interested patrons can also purchase art online, or order catalogs to see more detail.
Award-winning artists Kate Kilpatrick-Miller, Karen Jobe Templeton and Lisa Chamberlain run the K2 Gallery with a mission to bring “beauty and joy to our clients through pieces of art and fine craft,” and to engage the community through workshops and events. The gallery was established in 2017 and is located under the neon sign of the Strand Theatre in a state- designated historic corridor.
Kathleen Royster Studio
This Main Street studio highlights contemporary ceramics. The artist combines a passion for modern design and simplicity to create beautifully balanced dinnerware that seamlessly blends tradition and innovation.
"In many of these towns, women are leading the way in fostering galleries and spaces for exhibits — a feat unheard of just a couple generations ago."
What To See in Torrey
Established in 1998 by Cathy Bagley, this gallery features work by local Utah artists who live or visit Torrey often, as well as nationally known artists. They also sell Navajo rugs, with an emphasis on antique rugs.
Their season is from March until November, with special openings for Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Watch for the gallery’s annual participation in Entrada’s Arts for the Park plein air competition in June 2021. During the pandemic, visitors can drop by the gallery Friday through Monday or by appointment.
For curios and rotating local artists, Diane Barrett’s Gallery 24 offers an eclectic collection full of delights.
Wayne County Farmers Market
The Wayne County Farmers’ Market showcases local artisans and producers, as well as fresh food. They plan to reopen in summer 2021.
What To See in the Sanpete Valley: Spring City and Ephraim
In the 1970s, artists began to flock to the Sanpete Valley because of the area’s picturesque views and pioneer architecture. Since the mid-2000s, many of the artists have banded together to start galleries and community events. Check out the Historic Homes and Art Square auction on Memorial Day weekend, the annual plein air competition over Labor Day weekend, and other special events once the state opens safely. (Read: “Gleaning a Small Town’s Harvest.”)
In 2012, friends Amy Jorgensen and Kelly Brooks established an art center in the historic Ephraim granary building. This contemporary art center is an exhibition space and an educational resource with workshops and special events. Granary Arts is a Local Arts Agency, which is a designation through the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, in partnership with Ephraim.
Spring City Art Gallery
Sophie's Black Sheep Gallery
An arm of Spring City Fine Art, this gallery represents traditional painting by Lynn Farrar and whimsical and humorous Sophie Soprano paintings.
The Snow College Art Gallery presents an annual exhibition of works from teachers, students and the community, and offers space for critique and discussion. Annual showcases include Artists in Residence, a juried exhibition of student work, and a bi-annual faculty exhibition, with solo and group shows throughout the year. The gallery also houses the Snow College Permanent Collection, including the Lund-Wassmer Collection, works donated by patrons and new acquisitions.