Editorial: Kimball Art Center’s move is a windfall for Bonanza Park
October 23, 2015
The modest building that housed the Kimball Art Center for over three decades is now nearly vacant. After negotiations with the city over the design for a major expansion at the base of Main Street failed, the art center decided to leave Old Town and move to a temporary location on Kearns Boulevard.
The decision didn’t sit well with many in the community who saw the two entities as inextricably intertwined. But as of Friday, it was beginning to look as though Main Street’s loss might be a bonanza for the art center’s new neighborhood.
After a few hectic weeks of packing up art and office supplies along with 35 years’ worth of memorabilia at the center’s historic site and working feverishly to convert a former church into a gallery flanked by studios, the Kimball is ready for its big reveal.
The KAC opens to the public today with a daylong celebration highlighted by a major exhibition of artwork featuring iconic works by household names like Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.
Those attending a sneak peek at the exhibit on Friday — including several attendees who had been skeptical about the move — were effusive about the new location, especially its accessibility and parking. Of equal importance, the new gallery offers ample space to showcase fine art (as the current exhibit proves) and the sunny studios are a vast improvement over the previous basement setting on Main Street.
Plans are to settle into the temporary spot for two to three years while the KAC board looks for a more permanent home, hopefully within the city limits.
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And while the art center’s move has left a worrisome hole in Main Street’s cultural scene, it is generating a lot of excitement in Bonanza Park, an area that has long been slated for redevelopment.
In 2011, a local developer proposed an ambitious plan for Bonanza Park that included a walkable mix of residential and commercial space along with cultural and educational facilities. But that plan stalled as the developer tried to work through the city planning process.
Nevertheless, a handful of small businesses a busy car repair shop, a chocolatier, a natural food store, a popular restaurant and bakery and an authentic Mexican grocery store, among others — have forged a small but vital commercial district.
The Kimball’s arrival might very well mark Bonanza Park’s tipping point.
The art center is to be commended for pivoting from its original plan to expand on Main Street and adding its vitality to a part of the city that needed a shot of optimism and inspiration.
The Kimball Art Center is located at 1401 Kearns Boulevard. The Grand opening will take place today, Saturday, Oct. 24, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the event and the Kimball Art Center’s upcoming exhibits and classes go to: kimballartcenter.org
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