Tuesday, January 30, 2007


So I’ve had my new iMac for several days. I L-O-V-E this computer. It was a lot of money but there is no buyer’s remorse here. I went into work on Friday, took one look at my Dell and shook my head thinking, “What an ugly computer you are. And look at all your obnoxious wires and cords. I want to go home and play with my iMac.”

Now that I’m past the gazing at it and telling it how pretty it is phase, I’m finally getting to know my iMac a little better.

I’ve run into many set backs and I’ve had to make a few phone calls to figure out how to cut, copy and paste, how to save a picture from the internet, and other things, but I’m slowly getting the hang of a mac. I keep trying to right click on this mouse, but it won’t have any of that nonsense. All my PC shortcuts mean nothing to this computer.
There are still so many programs I need to figure out, but I will tell you one thing: my new favorite word is widget. I don’t know what it means, but I finally know what a widget is.

I have the basic widgets on my “dashboard” such as the five-day forecast, the time, a calendar and a calculator. But I added a dictionary, post it notes and then I just barely downloaded the “Lost” computer timer. Apparently I’m supposed to push the button every 108 minutes. It’s getting a little late but I’m kind of afraid to go to sleep. I don’t want to be responsible for an earthquake. Or what if my brand new computer self-destructs? That would be awful. It’s so pretty.

I’ve had a lot of fun with Photo Booth. So here is shrunken head Laura.

Geez. I think I’m going to watch Heroes or something to pass the time. I have 93 minutes until I need to push the button and reset the "Lost" clock at 108 minutes. What have I gotten myself into...does anyone want to take the next shift?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Gallery Stroll and Thank Yous

I don’t know who reads my blog anymore, but I want to extend a special thanks to my friends for coming out on Friday night to Gallery Stroll.

It means a lot to me when I see friendly faces walk into the Rio. And the Grantees Showcase is my biggest event of the year. I put more time, effort and creativity into preparing for the Grantees Showcase than any other exhibit we do, because it is a year-round process. I didn’t even have to recruit anyone this time. Well, except for my parents. But my sister and her husband showed up (their first time), and you showed up and you brought friends. So thanks for coming, and more importantly, thanks for STAYING. Not only did it mean a lot to me, it meant a lot to the artists who performed such as Michael Greenfield (he did the reading), Steve Ricks (he talked about his musical composition) and Jayne Luke (she did the 10 minute play). You guys made up a good portion of their audience, and whether you enjoyed their project or not, an audience is all they really wanted.

If you couldn’t make it out on Friday, the next Gallery Stroll at the Rio Gallery is March 16th. That’s the Fellowship exhibit. That should be a good one too. It features four visual artists who each won $10,000 to create new work.

There’s nothing like hearing the right words at the right time. That doesn’t happen very often, so when it does, it’s really memorable for me. A couple weeks ago, I was coming out of a meeting for the project grants we give. I inherited the role as committee leader when it comes to this grant. I didn’t ask for it, but our former committee leader was in a terrible car accident over the summer and out of the office for several months, so I took over. I didn’t know what I was doing, I had little experience when it came to managing a grant program, but with the help of everyone else, we were trying to pull it off without our familiar leader. He came to our meeting that day and he told me on my way out that I was doing a “bang up job.” I really needed to hear that after a frustrating meeting. He told me again on Friday that the Showcase was a success and that it’s turning into something the artists really enjoy. It’s a nice feeling, knowing you did something right.

The mother of a girl in our ward gave the R.S. presidency a thank you card on Sunday. She thanked us for visiting her daughter earlier last week. The funny part was, we didn’t get to visit with her. She was on the phone and didn’t answer the door for a few minutes, and when she finally did open the door, she didn’t even get off the phone. We just dropped off some cookies. We left thinking the poor girl thought we were crazy and obnoxious. It was so sweet of her mother to encourage us like that.

I got another thank you card from a girl in my ward on Sunday as well. It was the most random thing ever, and I think she wrote several of them, but she thanked me for a few things I’ve said and simply for being me. That’s probably one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received. It’s nice to know that people not only notice you for the noticeable things you do, such as lessons you prepare or talks you give, but knowing that someone appreciates me for who I already am reminds me that I don’t always have to go out of my way, and that I’m doing something right already.

So I had a feel good weekend. I’m not sharing these things because I want you all to know there are people out there who appreciate me. I guess I just want to say that these nice things have encouraged me to be more appreciative of those around me and to let you know how much a “thank you” can mean. So if you get the chance, tell someone that they’re doing a good job or you appreciate their example. You never know how much they need to hear it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I really CAN see the future

Awhile ago I made mention in a post that according to a certain Tickle Test I am a "visionary philosopher" and can see the future (see "Being a Pedestrian").

So in reference to Dream #3 in my last post, I have to say I laughed pretty hard as I was going through some grant applications today and came across an artist who is doing a project he calls "Pals Pet Portraits." I would post one of his images, but that would be inappropriate. But if he doesn't get a grant, maybe I'll suggest he give Oprah a call.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Busy Dreaming

Last night was a weird night. I think I went to sleep around 11:30. I woke up ten minutes later thinking it was like 4 AM, but nope, I was only sleeping for ten minutes. After that, I tossed and turned, dreaming like crazy. Sometimes a dream can be like a time warp. I think I'm out for a long time, but really it was only a few minutes. I probably had 6 or 7 dreams, but these are the three I remember the most:

Dream #1

Sister Hughes (the bishop’s wife) calls to tell me that church is going back to the regular time at 1 PM rather than 10:50 AM. I remember thinking, “Is she calling everyone individually to tell them this?” I asked her, “Sister Hughes, do you want me to call some people for you?” but she was fine calling everyone on her own. This dream was odd for a couple reasons. One: the bishop’s wife has been MIA for several months. Two: she pronounced her name really strange. I don’t remember how she pronounced it, but it sure wasn’t how one would normally say “Hughes.”

Dream #2

I was walking around the gallery where I work; only it was in a huge warehouse like Costco or something. There was a TON of artwork. So much they set it up salon style, (more than one row of paintings on the same wall) so it looked more like a store than an art gallery. It was all very run-of-the-mill, traditional, pedestrian kind of artwork. Some of it was OK. But it was some sort of Valentines theme because there was a bunch of couples in the paintings. The artists in the show were part of some larger artist co-op and had just finished setting it up for the Gallery Stroll that night. I remember walking around thinking, “this isn’t the best art, but I sure am glad they set it up themselves.” They brought their own shelves to put all the little trinkety 3D work. They also hired some guy to come play the guitar. They made it real easy on me. Sometimes the most together and professional artists are the ones with the tackiest art.

Dream #3

I think the last dream morphed into this dream somehow. And this was really weird, because I wasn’t even in it. I’ve never had a dream that I wasn’t in before. So maybe someone in the dream represented me somehow. Oprah Winfrey was going door to door with a camera crew asking little kids to donate their pets because she had some program where artists were going to paint portraits of pets and they needed models. (I’m laughing so hard right now by the way because it is even more ridiculous now than it was at 1 AM). So she’s walking the streets with a microphone and these cameras telling kids this was for a good cause. She got to this one house where there were three girls. The older two didn’t have any pets but they said their little sister did. So the poor little girl comes to the entry way and is just on the floor crying because she doesn’t want to give her puppy away, but what are you supposed to do? It’s Oprah. I remember feeling so sad for that little girl because it was so unfair.

Man, last night was exhausting. I don’t know what to make of these dreams. We are installing a show right now and it’s been kind of a pain with unreliable (although talented) artists, so that would explain the second dream.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Close Enough (But Not Really)

Fortune Magazine just named its top businesses to work for in 2007. Anyone picked up the latest copy of Fortune? (Yeah, like I read Fortune. Of course I saw it on TV).

Apparently Google is who you want to work for. They have comedy acts come to their lunch rooms, they have 3 free gourmet meals a day, they play volleyball outside and who knows what else. For more information on the perks of being a Googler, click here. It makes me wonder if they even have time to work -- or even want to go home to their families.

My job may not be that great, but it's a great job. When our current director started the job two years ago, she asked the staff to write a two page essay about why we work for the Utah Arts Council and why we love it. I might have been the only one who loved this assignment. It forced me to evaluate why I am where I am and what keeps me here. I thought it was a great way for a new boss to get to know each of us individually and learn about our motivations. I don't know if it was her intention, but this essay is great to read every time the bureaucracy gets me down.

I love the people I work with, the varied programs I get to work on and basically, making a difference in people's lives. So, if you care to, you can read the essay I wrote almost two years ago.

January 26, 2005

I remember sitting in my Contemporary Art class in the auditorium of the BYU Museum of Art. It seemed like all the art history students sat in the middle and all the studio art students sat on the sides. I don’t know when or how that happened. It’s not that we art history students didn’t like the art students, or vice versa, it’s just the way it was. To be honest, I think the two parties were a little intimidated by each other. The artists dressed differently. They wore vintage clothes, had disheveled hair and listened to indie rock. They seemed to live in a world all their own. Somehow I believed they knew more about art than I did. After all, they were the artists. I didn’t create art; I simply studied those who did. I studied their technique, their thoughts and their passions. I perceived them as aloof and uninterested in what I thought.

One year later, I began work at the Utah Arts Council. Artists were everywhere. I no longer studied them from afar. I had no choice but to talk to them, work with them, and understand them. My job was to facilitate their success. Suddenly, artists weren’t so different than I was. They were friendly, real, and they had insecurities just like I did. They didn’t have everything figured out and they didn’t always know more about art than I did. In fact, what I thought meant a great deal to them. They weren’t necessarily aloof; in fact, most were extremely social. They cared deeply about other people and enjoyed gathering together and sharing ideas. But finding a receptive audience with which to share their ideas was something they felt as a challenge. Sure, the Utah Arts Council would listen; it’s our job and we share their vision, but what about everyone else? Especially in a world where patience and abstract thinking has been devalued as short attention spans are spoon-fed simple and easy answers.

I adopted this challenge of developing audiences for the arts as my own. I wanted to do whatever I could to increase awareness and encourage dialog between the artist and the “non” artist. Everyone has different perceptions about what surrounds them. Everyone has a different channel through which they communicate ideas. Some platforms from which these ideas are expressed are more accessible than others, but each is valid and deserves fair attention and recognition. I know there are people out there who shy away from the arts. They fear their lack of understanding makes them inadequate and unwelcome in the artist’s intellectual sphere. I want to dispel this notion and persuade everyone to receive art as an essential component of his or her lifestyle. Art isn’t for a select circle of intellectuals, philanthropists or vintage clothed individuals with disheveled hair. Art is for everyone.

The arts have always been a part of my life. I was blessed with parents who value art and its ability to stretch my imagination and my understanding of the world around me. As long as I can remember, I accompanied the “adults” to the symphony, the ballet, the Utah Shakespearean Festival, and the great museums of the world. Growing up, I had very few friends who valued these activities as much as I did. To many of them classical music was a bore, museums were impenetrable and poetry was perplexing. As I got older, I found more friends who shared my interests, or, at least, were willing to try new things. To me, that is what the arts are about: trying new things, and discovering how our environment isn’t always as we perceive it. If the arts are part of your life, you are constantly learning. And as long as you continue to learn, you will continue to grow. I consider it a privilege to work in an environment that encourages growth of the human mind and spirit. And being surrounded by those who feel the same is a tremendous source of comfort and motivation for me.

Since my contemporary art class, my intimidation when it comes to artists has matured into a genuine admiration. I respect their talent and their position in our community. As I sat in the Utah Arts Council’s “Creativity and the Artist” workshop at Sundance last spring, I listened to artists discuss their work as they presented slides to the group. I admired their ability to feel and explore ideas and emotions so deeply. I thought, “what a luxury it must be to have an outlet for these feelings when they become so big that your mind and heart cannot hold them anymore.” I began to examine my role in the lives of these artists. I have come to learn how my place is just as important to artists as theirs is to me. If nothing else, it means a great deal to have advocates speaking on their behalf; providing ways for them to do what they love, and creating opportunities to share their work with an audience. I learned that artists don’t want to be segregated from the rest of us. They don’t want to sit on the sides while we sit in the middle, assuming that we don’t understand each other.

Artists have the capacity to be the philosophers, teachers, poets and comedians of our time. And I, as part of the Utah Arts Council, have the capacity to help make decisions as to how we, as a community, can encourage these talents, cultivate these ideas and recognize these accomplishments. Artists prompt progression, encourage questions and broaden boundaries. The world would stop if it were run by the people who say “it can’t be done.” As I collaborate with other staff members, carry out ideas and witness our successes, I am proud of the achievements that come. As a result, I notice people welcome art into their lives. They begin to greet new ideas with an open mind. They take pleasure in their expanded understanding as they introduce others to their newfound knowledge. I see this progression and smile, recognizing that in my own little way, I can make a difference just like artists can.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Just when I think I’m sick of my job, and there is little that can impress me I go to an art exhibit like Robert Taplin’s “The Five Outer Planets” at the Salt Lake Art Center. I rarely go to the SLAC. I don’t know why, it’s on my way home and they have great shows. I guess I figure I see enough art at my gallery and all the other galleries I go to regularly. But I stopped in on my walk home last week. It reminded me why I work in the arts and how fortunate I am to work in a field where I can stop in galleries and see exhibits such as these as part of my eight-hour day.

Having read little to nothing about what I was going to see, I didn't know what to expect. I was all alone in the gallery. As I first wove my way through the suspended figures, it didn’t seem like anything special. But on my way out, I climbed up the stairs and looked down at the gallery from above and ended up staying there for almost ten more minutes.

Visually, there wasn’t much to this show. There were five pairs of male figures, suspended from the ceiling in darkness. Each double was made up of one figure in reinforced gypsum and the other in a translucent fiberglass resin, lit from within. The lit figures provided the only source of light in the gallery. These bodies were placed in the gallery relative to the positions and proportions of the five outer planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Granted, Pluto was stripped of its planet status during the run of this exhibit, but still.

I think I preferred to view the exhibit from a distance because it put the entire thing into perspective for me. It helped me to stand back, somewhat at level with the floating figures rather than beneath or among them. It’s hard to explain, but it was an incredibly pure and poetic experience. Like I said, I didn’t read anything beforehand, I probably should have (I got the materials and planet proportion info from a press release as I was looking for web images to include). I’m sure there are many meanings that I’m not even considering, but I thought it was such a peaceful representation of these heavenly bodies. I liked how each pair was made up of one dark figure and one lit figure. The actual planets are lit by reflective light, so I thought it was poignant that while one figure was dark, it’s double was lit from within, such as angels and gods emanate their own light. Whether the lit being represented someone watching over us or our own potential being, it brought a new level of spiritual meaning for me. I guess I kind of like to think of it as our more spiritual, wiser self guiding us. So I’m glad I didn’t miss that. I have a renewed appreciation for the kind of work I’m in.

New subject:

I found myself watching live coverage of Gerald Ford’s funeral this morning for about an hour. The nobility and dignity of these funerals always impresses me and I love the National Cathedral. I’m glad I got to go inside when I visited D.C. a couple years ago, and I was even lucky enough to go when they were having a service. I love hearing choirs sing in cathedrals. It’s just so majestic and regal.

So here is my complaint about news coverage when it comes to events like this: Why do newscasters feel they need to fill every second of silence with meaningless words? This is a funeral, it’s supposed to be quiet and reflective. But most of all, music is meant to be heard just as much as a speaker is meant to be heard. What makes a reporter think his voice is more important than Aaron Copland’s “The Promise of Living”? I saw images of the choir and the orchestra, but I heard the music only faintly because Charlie Gibson was rambling on as if I needed him to tell me that Nancy Reagan was there, and Jimmy Carter was there... And it kept happening. But when someone would get up to speak, the news reporter would stop talking for the speaker. Then of course the music started up again and they turned down the volume so they could tell about what the speaker just said. Radio coverage undoubtedly holds off speaking during a musical number -- I know, I kept on listening once I came in to work. Why is television different? I don’t need you to tell me Chelsea Clinton is sitting between her mother and Condoleeza Rice. I can see it on the screen; I don’t mind them talking while we’re watching the procession of vehicles or as people are finding their seats, but let me listen to the music. You can tell me a little about the choir and the name of the song, but let me listen to most of it. I found myself switching channels from ABC to NBC to CBS until I found one that didn’t talk over the music. And the prize goes to… FOX news, which I never watch. So thank you FOX for allowing me to experience the funeral properly.

Since it's the new year, I could talk about resolutions. I'm not big on new years resolutions, not because I never keep them, but mostly because I'm setting resolutions for myself year-round. My mom made brunch yesterday for our family and some other family friends. My mom prepared little scrolls of paper with a pen for everyone with this announcement: "Instead of setting resolutions this year, I thought we could each just have one word that guides us in 2007." My brother opened up his paper and said, "Where's my word?" Um...Carter you're supposed to choose it yourself and write it down. He threw his arms up in the air with sudden disinterest. I guess he wanted a fortune cookie.

Because I set resolutions and goals for myself all the time I decided my word will be "diligence". After reflecting over my goals this past year, I saw how many of them faded, so I'm going to be very generic and choose diligence as the new me. I'm going to be harder working, and stick to my goals and decisions. We'll see how it goes.