Last year, I packed an entire life and left my dreamy 1950s his/hers, somehow summoning the bravery to fly from my beautiful Brooklyn nest into the unknown. I remember that last fledgling afternoon, eerily calm, filled with a million spiritual bookmarks, the day cut from glass. At the last possible second, my left foot in a cab and the other on the curb, Maria – a woman who’s last name I never knew, but who was such a sweet constant in my life, came dashing out of the vegetable shop she works at catty-corner to The Penthouse. Screaming my name, she jogged toward me, a gigantic Pink Lady Apple in her out-stretched hand, a baggie stuffed with almonds and tiny cut blocks of cheddar cheese held aloft. She arrived winded at my feet, pushed both into my purse, and flung her arms around me. The cabbie yelled, “You! Hey! HEY! In or out, lady?” There, in my last seconds as Carroll Garden’s resident, Maria pulled me in tighter, crushing my chest and my steadfast resolve to not cry. My tears splashed down on her bare shoulder and she did not wipe them away. In her broken English she whispered sharply into my ear, “You. You go make your dream.” That last act of kindness sums up my fourteen years of life in Brooklyn – the place where strangers become life rafts, and love is fierce. The solemn moment was not dimmed by the string of terse profanity she delivered to my driver once we left our embrace.
I was a week in Utah before I had the shocking realization that it had been more than 13 years since I had NEEDED to make a friend. The city had swept me up and while it had at times been lonely, friendships were carved deep in my veins. WHAT WAS I EVEN DOING IN THE DESERT?!?This year has been hard. It has been confusing. It has caused me to grow in ways I could never grow in New York. As I stretch toward the light, I realize that slowly, you make a life. When everything is new, everything can be seen anew. With grace, I’m carving new friendships into my veins.The collective of artists I’ve been so lucky to be a part of is pushing against all barriers of smallness. Here, creative life is rich and good. It strives to be inclusive. I do not know how I would have survived without my small tribe, strangers only twelve months ago, but confidants in art now. There is intelligence and energy here.
While my circle is still etched into the cobbled streets of Brooklyn, it has arms reaching West, even to Provo. Those of you who have Utah artists in your Rolodexes – yes, Brooklynites still have Rolodexes, please scroll through them and help me grow even stronger in this place where life springs anew. Please help me spread this call to arms here in Utah. Invite the friends I have not yet made to be a part of this exciting time.Here in this comparative thumbprint of a town, there is a growing pulse of talented creatives gathering beneath a desert sky. We are musicians, ceramicists, sculptors, painters, film makers, carpenters, photographers, illustrators, industrial designers and tech loving nerds. #WeAreUtah We bring to this place our collective experience, and with those bits and pieces of artistic life, we are throwing an epic party. Our goal is to bring together people who are creating, striving, trying, feeling like they’re failing, or excited at their successes. We want to draw closer everyone who dreams of living an artful life. We want to bring them alongside on our journey to support that noble cause here in Provo.
Details are on the South of Center Fest website. We’ll be showcasing all artists willing to participate, regardless of station or experience. The event will kick off with a potluck for artists and volunteers and end three days later with a panel discussion on how art can change a community. We’ll have a place for all artists to hang their work with their peers, and a print shed to share affordable art with everyone. Every person who comes to the show with $20 can leave a patron of the arts. Friday night we’ll hoist a movie screen out on the barricaded street, where we’ll show Criterion Collection movies until the Sun swollows the darkness. There will be art to see and art to buy and artists to meet and work alongside of. We want to grow deep here. We want creative roots. If you are an artist or a maker or a patron of the arts, or if you’d like to volunteer to be a part of this amazing time in #UtahValley – or you know someone who NEEDS to be here, please join us. I think it will inspire you. It does me.
I’m posting this for every artist who needs a fierce whisper – “You. You go make your dream.” We are makers. We are here. SouthofCenterFest.com