Granary Arts touts accomplishments as it celebrates 10th anniversary

            EPHRAIM—The Granary Arts Center on Main Street in Ephraim has accomplished a lot in its 10-year existence, Amy Jorgensen, the director and curator, told the Ephraim City Council May 18.

Director Amy Jorgensen, and staff Kamilla Earlywine and Bryn Burningham in front of Granary Arts on Main Street, a local art agency that promotes art in the community is celebrating it’s 10-year anniversary this year.

            In her annual report to the council, which provides substantial funding for the center, Jorgensen said the center had impacted 170,221 people last year, a 26 percent increase from 2020.

            The local art agency says its objectives include providing access to diverse art forms, engaging in community development through the arts, providing or supporting arts education, presenting art programming, managing cultural facilities in the community and contributing to creative place-making.

            Besides local exhibits, Granary sponsors a series of virtual site-specific experiences called “Our Valley Speaks: A Sanpete Experience,” begun in 2021. The project has had 32 contributors, such as artists, historians and local experts who provide tours of Sanpete communities and describe historic events.

            Artwork assembled by Granary Arts is not just exhibited in the Main Street gallery. It is also displayed at Snow College, the Ephraim City Library and other locations, including the Golden Skyline Assisted Living Center.

            The gallery itself also displays traveling exhibitions from the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. It also offers education programming for students. Workshop Wednesday is held onsite at Granary, and art instructors visit elementary schools every week. The center has three paid interns, along with many volunteers.

            It’s not just art, either. Granary also helped Snow College students teach elementary students about animation and learn songs about Sanpete written by Granary fellows Ashley Hanson and Brian Laidlaw. The operation even co-sponsored a spring summit in Green River, Emery County, where planners, architects and artists looked to the future of rural places.

Patrons look at the Granary Arts main gallery’s project, “The New Beehive,” which was a show held recently that featured 30 artists responding to Utah’s cultural symbol.

            Back in 2011 and 2012, city officials were dismayed by the direction the local art gallery, at the time known as the Central Utah Art Center, had taken. It focused almost entirely on contemporary art, which the mayor and city manager at the time felt were out-of-step with local interests. The mayor took issue with a painting that included nudity and was displayed behind a curtain.

            That’s when long-time friends Amy Jorgensen and Kelly Brooks proposed creation of a new non-profit art center in the historic Ephraim granary. As residents, artists and teachers, they believed that they could create an organization and facility that could be a creative driving force, educational resource and frequented gathering place by making visual art engaging and accessible to the community.

Chart showing impact of Granary Arts Center over its 10-year history

            A labor of love in the truest sense, Granary Arts grew From the desire to enrich the place Jorgensen and Brooks call home.

            Now, after 10 years, Granary Arts is looking to the future, including partnering with the Sundance Film Festival and American Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and being featured in the Southwest Contemporary Magazine. The center is also involved with restoration of the Bishop’s Storehouse next door to the granary.

            Today, Jorgensen says, Granary Arts remains dedicated to its rural roots while reaching out to the global art community.