Last spring, 15 Bytes (Utah’s Art Magazine) invited the public to nominate artists they feel have influenced the direction of art and culture in Utah. The project attracted 97 nominations from 70 individuals. Those who submitted nominations were invited to vote for their top 15 choices. From these, the e-zine announced the “15 Most Influential Artists.” This exhibition features the work of these 15 artists. The e-zine has also produced a book with in-depth profiles of the artists, written by 15 Bytes writers. The book will be the e-zine’s first print publication and will be released on the night of the opening.
Laura Durham of Utah Arts & Museums headed this project in collaboration with 15 Bytes. “As an arts administrator, I find myself defending the arts on a regular basis,” she said. “I believe working in the arts is a viable profession that can be quite profitable if our society can recognize the value arts have.” She started this awards program and hopes it will inspire more people to recognize how art has enhanced their quality of life. “Many awards programs honor leadership in the arts, excellence in art or who is the most popular right now,” she noted. “As arts administrators, I recognize we have the position and power to create a widespread impact, but I want to celebrate influence from the creative individuals who are practicing the art that we promote, support and enjoy.”
The nominations included artists working in visual arts, music, dance, theatre, film and literature. The public was asked to write 150 words about their nominations. Durham said, “The most rewarding part of this project was reading the heartfelt words from our community describing how an artist has touched their lives and why they feel our world is a better place with them in it.” The honorees are: Paul Davis of Teasdale; Brian Kershisnik of Kanosh; and Trent Alvey, Sandy Brunvand, Anna Campbell Bliss, Ruby Chacon, Anne Cullimore Decker, John Erickson, Stephen Goldsmith, Bonnie Phillips, Brad Slaugh, Terry Tempest Williams, Sam Wilson, Frank McEntire and Joan Woodbury of Salt Lake City.
“It's a thrill to exhibit the artwork of so many prominent visual artists in one exhibition,” said Lynnette Hiskey, Director of Utah Arts & Museums, "and being able to showcase an actress, writer and dancer as well is a rare treat.”