Newly appointed Executive Director of the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Adam Price comes to the Bemis from the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. Price arrives with a track record for helping create imaginative opportunities for artists and art patrons.
Inspired by the 2006 11 Spring St. Graffiti Exhibition in New York City, Price and his wife, Dessi invited artists to transform a Salt Lake City office building they had and were planning on tearing down. In 2007 the 337 Project invited any artists who wanted to, to participate.
“We ended up with 150 artists around the clock, picking a space to work in or on, a 20,000 square foot collective of art,” Price said. “It was open for two week-ends. It really hooked me. The best thing I did for the project was just get out of the way. It was breathtakingly magical, watching all these artists work.”
One artist did a fresco, knowing the building would eventually be demolished. The 337 Project grew organically. It included a broad spectrum of artists within a wide range of experience and sensibility.
“If you have artists working and interfacing, it changes the way people think about where they live,” Price said. “The social impact works on so many levels. Artist’s practices were transformed by the project. It was serendipitous the way it all came together. My wife Dessi was an absolute partner. She’s a Graphic Designer, and created all the promotional literature. Incorporating 337 as a non-profit allowed us to create ad hoc projects, slice out and test aspects of the original 337.”
The project shifted the community’s understanding of art and its capacity to create positive change. Responding to a new calling, Adam Price left a successful 14-year law career.
“In 2009 I was asked to take the helm of the Salt Lake City Art Center, later renamed the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. How do you get people who don’t go to museums to engage in contemporary art? These experiences helped me begin to understand, from an administrative point of view, what needs to happen.
“Creating connections with community and facilitating the experience of great art has transformative power for everyone. It’s exciting to see the ripple effect and broader impact it can have,” Price noted.
After three years helping to build an enlarged art scene, as well as a newfound career, Price was ready for the next step.
“The Bemis is one of the crown jewels of contemporary art. We want programming to be accessible, and have a point of inclusion for everyone to participate. Contemporary art is not a language that leaves people out. People have all the tools they need to have a rich encounter with contemporary art. Ambiguity in the language of visual art is its source of greatest strength and interest, contradictory messages being carried in one work. I view my job as making it possible for viewers to have that experience.”