Guerrilla art, street-art, take-over art, whatever you want to call it, it’s been in Ogden for about three years now. Amir Jackson, founder of local non-profit Nurture the Creative Mind, has initiated many guerrilla style projects on his own and with his group. According to him, “There is a budding guerrilla arts concept, but the movement is not there… yet.” Others disagree. Jane Font, owner of Pandemonium Art Gallery, believes the movement in Ogden is well on its way. She’s partnered with Amir on several projects over the last year, including an “In my life I will…” board that made an appearance for a few days on Ogden’s Historic 25th Street. Jane has coined the phrase “Make Ogden Weird,” Jane feels that the operative word “Make” marks a significant difference. “There’s movement in the word ‘make’ and we get to be a part of that.”
What exactly is guerrilla art? Well, it can be pretty much anything. According to Jane, it’s a shake up from your normal routine, a “removal from auto-pilot” and something that creates emotion in you. “It takes your interest in and pulls you out of your normal, and I think for most people that is uplifting.”
Amir’s group installed ten painted pianos on Historic 25th Street this summer; open for public play and enjoyment. Local business, The Needlepoint Joint pulled together their knitting community of more than 40 knitters and did a “yarn bomb” on 25th Street earlier this spring, Whitespace Contemporary hosted a pop-up art studio in the form of rented U-Haul trucks, the insides of which were converted to a gallery space for one weekend only. Carbon Architects and Io Landscape Architecture participated in an international event called PARK(ing) Day, converting two asphalt parking stalls into a temporary playground last year, and again this fall.
But why not just go through the city-funded arts program and follow protocols? For the most part, these projects tend to be smaller in scale, though some are certainly quite large and detailed. “There’s a bit of rebelliousness in it,” Jane admits. “It’s fun to break the rules a little” but in a positive, forward approach.”
For some people, this is the prime time to get involved, but for others, they need to see it come to life before they can really buy in. As Amir puts it, “People like being a part of something, but they don’t necessarily want to build something.” This was his experience with the piano project. The first year he tried to do it, people were pretty confused and didn’t really understand. Now in its third year, people are seeing the vision and accepting it.
But for the people who have the vision now and can see into the future, the best way for them to get involved? Some of these things can be executed single handedly. Others will need to build relationships and partner to carry things out. “Either way, the process is really just deciding to do it and then getting it done.” Amir says, “The difference between an idea and a completed project is seeing it through.”
And while Ogden City has so far been a great “partner in crime,” it’s always a good idea to check with the city before doing anything that’s permanent or in the public right-of-way. Graffiti is not accepted. Other things occupy more of a gray area, so ask before you find yourself in trouble. It really never hurts to ask, especially in a community with arms wide open and ready for a full-throttle arts movement to take place. Put on your creative cap!