A Call to Place

—Utah Arts & Museums – For immediate release on March 1, 2016


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Arts & Museums announces A Call to Place: The first five years of the Frontier Fellowship. The exhibition highlights the town of Green River through a project initiated by Epicenter, an interdisciplinary nonprofit organization.

The town of Green River lies within the lunar landscape of eastern Utah: rock cliffs reveal striations of sediment with boulders clustered below fracturing buttes. Green River is a place where the land is plentiful and the red dust, burnt cliffs, and lonely sky lie just beyond the end of its roads. Prismatic sunsets give way to stars that shine bold and close. If you’ve never seen monolithic terraces under an oceanic sky, Green River is the seeing place. The only town of consequence for many miles, Green River has been a welcomed sight to travelers for well over a century. Uranium mining, the construction of a missile base, and other economic booms led to times of prosperity that proved short-lived. As jobs disappeared and the newly built Interstate 70 routed travelers around, rather than through the town, businesses closed shop, buildings fell into disrepair, and the town’s population dwindled to its current size of 952. During the recent recession, Epicenter began partnering with the city and residents to reverse Green River’s economic misfortunes and strengthen the community.

Epicenter’s visiting artists, “Frontier Fellows,” prove an integral part of this revitalization by discerning and celebrating Green River’s rural pride and pioneering spirit. The exhibition, A Call to Place, features the first five years of Frontier Fellows, 50 visiting artists and collaborators who have each spent up to one month in residence generating place-based work in Green River alongside the community.

“We’re delighted to celebrate and reflect on one of our most stunning rural communities in Utah” said Gay Cookson Utah Arts & Museums Director, “Epicenter, and the respective fellows, are playing an important role in their community while expanding the boundaries of how we think about art making. Undoubtedly the contributions and perspective offered by these visiting artists will make a lasting impact.”

The exhibition runs from Mar. 18th-May 13th, 2016. An artist reception will be held on Mar. 18th from 6-9 p.m. for Gallery Stroll. The Rio Gallery is located inside the Rio Grande Depot at 300 S. Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. Additionally the Gallery is open in partnership with The Downtown Winter Farmers Market every other Saturday from 10am-2pm from January 16th-April 23rd, 2016.

Thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts (Artworks), Utah Division of Arts and Museums, AmeriCorps VISTA, and Steve and Juanita Sykes for their generous support of this project.

Participating artists/collaboratives:

Charlotte XC Sullivan, Zoe Minikes, Zorth Pilioneta, Miles Mattison, Nick Zdon, Daniel Strauss, Nicole Lavelle, Ali Osborn, Jamey Herman, Richard Saxton, Sarah Baugh, Justin Flood, Raphael Griswold, Emily Howe, Aidan Koch, Shawn Creeden, Catherine Page-Harris, Kristina Fong, Corbin Lamont, Zach Bulick, Russell Kerr, Cabin Time, Erica Dixon, Dylan Adams, Bennett Williamson, Gina Abelkop, Colin Bliss, Lucia Carroll, Cyrus Smith, Sincerely Interested, Michelle Benoit, Molly Goldberg, Mary Rothlisberger, Celia Hollander, Ryan Ford, Grayson Earle, Jordan Topiel Paul, Andrew Hamblin, Spence Kroll, Eliza Fernand, Geoffrey Holstad, Rob Loucks, Pete Collard & Alice Masters, Lisa Ward, Emily Howe, Jordan Gulasky, Phil Dagostino, High Desert Test Sites, Laurelin Kruse, and Sarah Lillegard.

Curation: Epicenter
Design: Corbin LaMont

For more information on the Fellowship visit frontierfellowship.org.

RSVP to the event here.

Melon Days 2013: The Melon Games

“Support the Melon Growers” parade float

Melon Days, our favorite weekend of the year, has officially come and gone. Festivities of the 107th annual Melon Days included the Melon Queen Pageant, the biggest and best Melon Days parade we’ve ever seen, volleyball and softball tournaments, square-dancing, live music, vendors in the park, and free endless watermelon samples.

Melon is a source of community pride in Green River. Most say it’s the best melon they’ve eaten. Jo Anne Chandler, the local archivist, says, “Texas and California don’t know melons. Green River knows melons.” Jo Anne believes no one knows how the first watermelon plant came into being in Green River. It could have floated down the river or a goose could have brought the seeds. No one knows. There are even opposing stories on who found that first watermelon plant. One story claims that a man named Oppenheimer found it in Little Valley. Another story says a man named Pace found it at Willow Bend. Both would have happened around the turn of the 20th century. Either way, one of them found the watermelon/watermelon plant along the river, saved the seeds, and began cultivating melon. Why does Green River create the best melons? The sandy soil and the old river bed create great conditions, and because it’s so dry here, but close to water, farmers are able to control the moisture. Also, supposedly, the only place that gets more direct sunlight than Green River, Utah, is Death Valley, California. Hot days and cool nights create a sweet and delicious melon.

The first melon shipment out of Green River was actually a side item to an apple shipment. There was an apple and peach boom in the early 1900’s when land was selling for $2,000 an acre. In the late 1910’s, there was a mild winter, and subsequently, an early spring. Flowers we are blooming, everything was gorgeous. But, then there was a unexpected freeze, which caused the sap in the blooming trees to expand, and caused the trees to explode. There were accounts of “snap, crackle, and popping” as the liquid sap froze to solid form. 50,000 Green River trees were killed that year. Realizing that orchards were a fickle investment, Green River farmers turned to melon. If a melon crop freezes, you can replant the crop, unlike apple trees which can take years to produce fruit.

Since Epicenter’s first Melon Days back in 2009, we’ve been addicted to this magical weekend celebrating Green River’s prized crop. We’ve never topped our first parade entry (Melon Monster), but we’ve finally perfected the Seed Spittin’ Contest and our booth in the park.

Armando dancing in the parade; Armando, Maria, Steph, and Ryann modeling Epicenter’s Melon Days shirt; Hand painted watermelon shoes by Maria.

This year we were honored to host Frontier Fellow, Erica Dixon, as the Seed Spittin’ Contest coordinator. Dixon annually coordinates the Communikey Festival, an interdisciplinary arts festival in Boulder, Colorado. This year Erica’s design included an obstacle course, a taste test, spitting for accuracy, and spitting for distance. All ages participated in this year’s contest, and winners include: Style- Alex, Distance- Tyrell (25′), Accuracy- Luis, 3rd overall- Nathaniel, 2nd overall- Emma Jo, and 1st overall- Rebecca. Congratulations to our winners! Thank you to our Seed Spittin’ Contest sponsors: Glenwood Adventure Park, Green River & Goblin Valley State Parks, Price Theatres, Robber’s Roost Motel, Ray’s Tavern, and the City of Green River. The contest and amazing prizes (movie tickets, a night in a yurt at Goblin Valley, tickets to Glenwood Adventure Park, and more) would not have been possible without their support!!!

Photos from our 2nd annual Seed Spittin’ Contest.

Our Melon Days arts booth this year was a major success and a fundraiser for Epicenter for the first time ever! AmeriCorps VISTA, Ryann Savino, coordinated the booth which focused on youth arts activities including tie-dyeing, bicycle-powered spin art, and face painting. The spin art bike was our most popular activity. After choosing a vintage vinyl record and placing it on the spin-art bike, a rider pedals to spin the record. Kids then squirt, drizzle, and splatter paint onto the spinning vinyl. Seeing the look on the artist’s face once their design was revealed was priceless!
Spin art bike in action.

Tie dyed shirts (shirt design by Dylan Adams, Frontier Fellow), Judith Trejo (2013 Melon Queen First Attendant) and her artwork, and drying spin art.

Thank you to WabiSabi, a great non-profit located in Moab, Utah, for letting us borrow their radical spin art bike. It was a huge hit! Thank you to our volunteers: Dylan Adams, Steph Crabtree, Dan Teed, Erica Dixon, Brett Jones, Nicole Lavelle, Miles Mattison, and Bennett Williamson.

Visit our Instagram feed for even more photos and short videos of Melon Days 2013. Historic information in this blog post was provided by Jo Anne Chandler, archivist at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum located in Green River.

Friday, September 27th, 2013