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Utah Division of Art and Museums
Hilary W. Jacobsen's "Scarab Beetle," part of "Art in the Home," is on view at the Rio Gallery until March 9, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — Whether it’s grandma’s flower painting above the mantel or a child’s drawing tacked on the fridge, art can bring joyous warmth to the space it inhabits. While the space we call home bears witness to the mundane moments of our existence, so too does it capture the many episodes of joy and sorrow that define our familial existence.

A new exhibition presented by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, “Art in the Home” brings forth an innovative concept: allowing artists and regular people to “swap” items with each other. In a collaborative fashion, the show’s 14 artists traded their original works for an item chosen by participants. Those involved were allowed to live with the artwork in their homes for a month while pondering how the artwork transformed the space.

Meanwhile, the participating artists received an array of items from their respective “hosts.” Ranging from the ordinary to the ornate, participants designated items to trade with the artists. Examples include an ornate clock, a painted porcelain box and a pair of skis.

Utah Division of Arts and Museums
Claire Tollstrup's "Because" is part of "Art in the Home," on view at the Rio Gallery until March 9, 2018.

The idea came from Utah artist Clinton Whiting, instructor at the Visual Art Institute in Sugar House. Whiting invited fellow artist Jeffery Hale to add his distinctive figural paintings to the project.

“When Clint approached me about doing the show … I was intrigued regarding how he intended to pull off his vision,” Hale said.

Eventually the show grew in enthusiasm and numbers to include works by Paige Crosland Anderson, Namon Bills, Stephanie Hock, Hillary W. Jacobsen, Abraham Kimball, Steve McGinty, Jeffery R. Pugh, Bruce Robertson, Heidi Somsen, Steven Stradley, Claire Tollstrup, Justin Wheatley and Clinton Whiting.

The project couples diverse artworks ranging in style and medium with the objects exchanged by participants. It also reveals the results of a survey the participants took. For many, the process fulfilled a longstanding desire, one previously left unfulfilled by busy life events and modest finances.

While many flock to Salt Lake’s monthly gallery stroll to view art in commercial galleries, a noted disconnect exists between the act of gazing and that of acquiring. For the majority of people, the latter is far outside their purview. That renders the act of looking an exercise in visual appreciation without a tangible material reward at the end.

And while many artists would concede that selling their art is personally vital, that isn't the main motivation. Instead, it's the less palpable effect that such artworks have on their audience.

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In essence, it’s this appreciation that inspires artists within Salt Lake's art scene. “I have always believed that art has never been and shouldn’t be exclusive to anyone," Hale said. "Clint provided the context to show this message in a powerful way. It was touching and sincere. Everyone should have the opportunity to own original art in their homes.”

Utah Division of Arts and Museums
Jeff Pugh's "Summer Waltz" is part of "Art in the Home," on view at the Rio Gallery until March 9, 2018.

If you go …

What: "Art in the Home"

Where: The Rio Gallery, 300 S. Rio Grande

When: Through March 9, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m

How much: Free

Phone: 801-245-7272

Web: heritage.utah.gov