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.

Frontier Fellowship Report: Sarah Lillegard

—Sarah Lillegard – 2016 Frontier Fellow


“…any landscape is composed not only of what lies before our eyes but what lies within our heads.” D.W. Meinig, geographer

Growing up in the West, I have a familiarity with open space. The imagery of it has gotten stitched onto my clothing and embedded into memories. From all those years of tumbleweeds crossing highways and dirt under my fingernails, I thought that I had an understanding of the western landscape. But here, in Green River, I know nothing of the West. Everything is so foreign, and, like learning a new language, I’ve filled my journal with terms to reconcile: escarpment, Mancos shale, tamarisk, tributary, and butte. Looking at the red rocks and Green River, I keep thinking: how do you let a landscape imprint itself on you? How do you commit it to memory?


My second evening here, we walked to the top of Monument Hill. Standing in one spot, Jack pointed to the La Sal Mountains, and then turned to the Book Cliffs, then the San Rafael Swell and finally G Hill. In that moment, my body became a compass with each formation marking a new orientation.


I don’t know how to sum up every nuance of a place even though I am constantly craving more—more stories, longer golden hours and later nights. I have spent a handful of afternoons in the libraries and archives reading about coal mining and sheep ranching. I can tell you about cattle ranchers versus shepherds or who broke curfew in the 1960s. But for all of the records and books, the history of a place doesn’t include catching cattails as they go to seed or trailing a smokey-faced cat along the sidewalk.


The West is still so young. People here can trace their roots back to when the land had yet to be “settled.” All of that homesteading means there’s an inescapable pride in the community. Visiting small-town museums throughout southeastern Utah, that hometown pride is so achingly evident. Families came west to make their fortunes, own a plot of land, and exercise their freedoms. With each of those families came the desire to turn a group of houses into a respectable town. Organizations, institutions, societies, churches, businesses and entertainment were all a part of that effort. As the towns grew in function, so did the pride the residents took in them. This created a sense of vested ownership that knowingly or unknowingly feeds into the present.


After a month, it’s hard to drive away knowing that things will continue to change without me here to watch them. I have spent my time in Green River being an observer and only at the end turning that into being a maker. Walking around I never took photos of the old, dilapidated buildings. They seemed greater than some narrative of nostalgia and ruinenlust. I kept wondering: how do you point to the history of a location without romanticizing the loss of it? In the end, I just made some objects and it wasn’t until I left that I realized the almost invisible memorials they could be. That seems like the quietest reward and best sort of goodbye.

Reading List:
“Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert” Terry Tempest Williams
“Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild” Ellen Meloy
“Why We Make Things and Why It Matters: The Education of a Craftsman” Peter Korn

“Old King Coal” Sturgill Simpson
“Southbound” Doc & Merie Watson
“The Last Pale Light in the West” Ben Nichols
“Sixteen Tons” George Davis
“Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” Lucinda Williams

Monday, February 29th, 2016


2015 Visiting Artists & Designers

Announcing, Epicenter’s Frontier Fellows and visiting creative professionals for 2015! Top left to bottom right:

Geoffrey Holstad
Ojai, California, USA (graphic designer and artist)

Rob Loucks
Portland, Oregon, USA (artist and dj)

Pete Collard
London, England, United Kingdom (writer and curator)

Lisa Ward
Portland, Oregon, USA (architect and artist)

Emily Howe, Jordan Gulaskey, and Phillip Dagostino
The West, USA (designer, printmaker, and neurosurgeon respectively)

High Desert Test Sites
Joshua Tree, California, USA (non-profit organization)

Laurelin Kruse
Los Angeles, California, USA (artist and curator)

Sarah Lillegard
Reno, Nevada, USA (artist and educator)

Friday, February 6th, 2015