October 10th, 2008

I had a difficult time finding parking, and I’ll admit to finally coming to stop in a “No Parking at Any Time” spot. The sign was faded and bent a bit, so I figured it didn’t carry as much weight. Bad parking Karma aside, the opening of the Bridge Academy was quite an art party. And their own sign is bright, loud and clear: “Bridge Academy.”

Artists, students, gallery owners, and locals squeezed into the spacious, three story building last night at 146 W. 600 S. in Provo, Utah. Throughout the building, artists stood painting and drawing at easels and chatting with guests. There are many nooks and interesting spaces in the building, and you can tell that the renovations have been extensive. It was inspiring to see how excited the Academy’s founders are as they greeted everyone warmly with hugs and gave tours throughout the building.

The instructors and co-founders are Jeff Hein, Justin Taylor, Sean Diediker and Ben McPherson, all primarily figurative painters. They have a very exciting message for the art community: “It seems that in today’s largely subjective world of art, many ‘artists’ lack the academic skills required to open their work up to limitless possibilities. Oftentimes, frustrated young artists attempt to express themselves early on before they have mastered the craft in which they have chosen to work. In so doing, they create boundaries that, ironically, permanently hinder their freedom of expression.”

The structure of the Academy is based on strengths that each founder has discovered from attending various institutions and their own art training. Each student is given access to a personal studio area, much like the 19th century Academies. The students are given assignments in still life, cast drawing and painting, and live model and perspective drawing. In Provo, this might be the only opportunity to work with a live model, to capture the human form and anatomy. Kudos to the Academy for elevating the human body as an art form, and recognizing the beauty in the natural figure.

I will have a chance to revisit the Academy in November when I will speak to the students about my experiences in the business world of art. Hopefully, I’ll find better parking.