Two UVU students seek to unify Utah Valley’s art community
In suburban Orem sits an ordinary brick and panel siding house. Inside the house, two artists have envisioned something extraordinary.
Their vision: an underground art gallery.
Outside a live band will play. Photographs from dozens of local shutterbugs will cover the walls of the house and hang from the ceiling. Paintings and drawings will spill out onto the lawn where easels display the imaginative power of a new, vibrant art community in Utah Valley. The art will be alive. The artists will eat, drink and sleep it.
The plain house is to become the setting for two men’s vision of their own art show.
Jake Buntjer and Patric Bates, both Bachelor of Fine Arts majors thrive off the symbiotic relationship between artist and art. Their idea for an independent underground art show is a matter of survival — for both the art and the artist.
Buntjer and Bates believe in a self-supporting art community that can exist right in the heart of Utah Valley. The goal of their underground art gallery is to unleash and unify that community. The event, branded as Studio 760, will take place on Oct. 15 in Buntjer’s house located on 1755 N. 700 West in Orem.
“There are artists who, you know … it’s who they are, it’s what they do, it’s how they live … and there’s not necessarily a platform right now here in Utah County where people can be surrounded by other artists,” Buntjer said.
Art is a unique entity that has struggled to plant itself in Utah County. Many artists leave the area for greener art pastures due to a lack of support.
“If it’s not supported then it’s going to migrate … If it’s not being supported you’re losing it,” Bates said. “The idea is to find other artists who are as eager to show their work and create a community as we are … then join our forces,” Buntjer said.
Enter Studio 760.
“I think it’s brilliant,” said Barbara Frazier, professor of photography at UVU. Frazier further expressed genuine appreciation for the students’ efforts. “It’s motivating … I love that they’re taking the initiative.”
The underground and independent format of Studio 760 benefits from several things that traditional school- and business-sponsored galleries do not. “It’s more punk rock,” Bates said. “To do whatever we want and keep our artistic integrity is pretty punk rock.”
Absolute creative freedom is something artists of all fields yearn for. Studio 760 seeks to tap into that freedom. Artists who submit work for Studio 760 will decide their own placement in the show.
“If someone wants to hang their art on the very baseboards of the house so that people have to lay on the ground to look at it … that’s the way we’re gonna do it,” Buntjer said.
By allowing the artists freedom to do what they do best, Studio 760 will transform a normal suburban home into something more-a comfortable atmosphere where artist and art lover can come to appreciate their passion.
“When you can buy the art from the actual artist, there’s something magical,” Buntjer said. “That’s the magic, that’s the connection to the community that I strive for.”
The head of the photography department at UVU, Travis Lovell, said he encourages proactive endeavors like Studio 760. He also believes in the positive impact art has on a community.
“Ideally, it betters everything about a community. It gets people thinking more, it beautifies, it engages,” Lovell said.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, Studio 760 will attempt to engage the art community of this valley. It won’t be a perfect gallery, but that’s the point.
“The only way to actually invent something great is to make a lot of mistakes while trying,” Bates said.
As of the week of Oct. 3, they’ve received submissions from numerous students, faculty, and alumni and are still accepting more. The artists are heeding the call to action; all that remains is the show itself.
The two students are not expecting any specific results from the show. The loose structure makes such expectations impossible — therein lies the tenacity of it.
“Who knows what’s gonna work?” Bates said.
“But it doesn’t matter, cause we’re doing it,” Buntjer said.
“We’re doing it,” Bates said.
Saturday, Oct. 15
5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
1755 N. 760 W.
By SPENCER HEALEY