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Parkite appointed to Utah Arts Council

Dan Bischoff, Of the Record staff

When the letter finally came in November, Kimberli Brown-McManus had her doubts.

"I had not heard for so long, I just assumed I didn’t make it," McManus said.

The letter, however, confirmed her acceptance. The Utah Arts Council board appointed her to its advisory board. When she received the letter, McManus initially felt "nervous and I hope that I’m qualified and live up to expectations."

If anyone is qualified for an advisory position on the Utah Arts Council, McManus is. Her whole life has been dedicated to sponsoring art.

"I think that I’ve always been involved in some level with artists and promoting artists," said McManus, who owns the shop Paisley Pomegranate at Redstone Town Center.

Her interests started as a young girl observing her parents’ love of art.

"My parents were collectors," McManus said. "When you are around that a lot, you become interested."

It wasn’t until college, however, that her love of art turned into a desire to make it her life’s work. She traveled to Spain with well-known artist James Christiansen and his family to study.

"That truly did spark my interest in art," McManus said. "We traveled all over Europe. Because he was an artist, that’s what we studied, even though we were supposed to study other things."

Ever since, she has been involved in promoting artists as a career.

"I think that I like to be around artists," she said. "There is such a creative energy there that I find myself inspired."

McManus, 45, moved to Park City eight years ago and worked with the Coda and Terzian galleries and said she was active in the art community. A couple years ago, she started Paisley Pomegranate, a store where she was able to represent artists with a unique type of "folk art."

"We represent a lot of locals artists like Morag Totten, Margaret Hunt, Nora Berwald and Sue Valentine," McManus said. "It’s really an eclectic mix of a lot of unusual, one-of-a-kind pieces, even furniture funky furniture, glass and we even carry shoes. It’s a crazy mix."

She finds fulfillment in helping artists grow when, without her it may not have been possible.

"I just think it’s wonderful when you are able to help an artist," she said. "To see them have success, it makes you feel wonderful. When you see somebody really talented, it’s exciting to be a part of that."

Her passion to be involved with art will face a new challenge as she starts her two-year term with the Utah Arts Council.

"I think it will be exciting," McManus said. "I’ll get to travel and see some different artists from Utah. I’ll have a better understanding of what it takes to create art through budgets."

McManus said, as an advisory board member, she will make recommendations regarding programs policies and grants and review applications for the council’s assistance for various art programs in the state. She will complete on-site review of projects throughout Utah but specifically those in Summit County.

Her part-time position will cover programs that will stretch from visual arts to museums and music.

"I think it’ll be fascinating to see how it works," McManus said. "I know a great deal about visual art. This panel encompasses all types of art, I was appointed to the visual."

"I believe that they wanted to involve someone from Park City," McManus said. "I felt that they were looking for somebody because the Park City art community has become vital to the state, because there are so many artists and galleries here."

Having someone on the council from Park City, will only increase the quality of the arts in Summit County, she said.

"I think the advantage to have someone from here is some of the different proposals are for things in Summit County, to have someone kind of cheering for you." McManus said. "If the quality and type of project merits it, I am definitely in your corner."

The time it took to become part of the council took much longer then she anticipated. After reading a July press release published in The Park Record, she looked into the possibility of joining the board.

"I always wanted to be involved and there was a lot of steps to be involved in this," McManus said. "I applied and did the different things and went through several different cuts."

She faced a competition of what she said was "several hundred people, I don’t know the exact number. It was a long lengthy process to siphon it down."

"I’m so excited," McManus said. "It’s the unknown, it’s like any kind of government appointment, it’s sort of new territory and I’ve never experienced it."

Her expertise and knowledge of art is what she thinks separated her from her competitors.

"I think I know quite a bit about art," McManus said. "They want that fresh perspective and new blood. I’ve always worked some way or anther in that field creating some sort of art."

McManus hopes her expertise will help influence art in all of Utah.

"I’d just like to get further involved in the statewide arts programs, both in the state and in the schools," McManus said.

McManus believes art is a solution to some of the escalating violence seen on the world.

"Art is an important thing that is left out of our daily life. If we spent more time on art and less on war, we might live in a different world. Artists are pretty peaceful people."


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