Each year, for the past 13, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts selects three works of contemporary art and has its paid members vote on which one to buy for the permanent collection.
These pieces either fill in gaps in the museum’s collection or create depth in a certain area, says Whitney Tassie, the curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. They also are selected based on price and the museum’s ability to store or care for them in perpetuity.
While the UMFA has a “fairly American focus,” Tassie said, it has tried in recent years to purchase art that reflects the “global art world and society in general.”
The three selected works for 2017 — which include vintage photographs from Africa, a photographic animated video from the U.S. and wall sculptures from Scotland — reflect that, she said.
“They are all works that I want in the collection,” she said, adding that “It’s always a challenge to select just one.“
So which piece of art should the UMFA buy next?
Photographer Malick Sidibé, who changed the way Westerners look at Africa, captured dynamic black-and-white images of youth culture in the capital of Bamako after Malian independence in 1960. The candid photographs depict evolving fashion trends, relaxing gender norms and the disintegration of social formalities. Taken in the artist’s studio, in the city streets and at private parties, the four photos chronicle the city’s changing post-colonial landscape.
Photographic animation video
Artist Lucy Raven’s photographic animation video, called “China Town,” follows the path of copper ore from an open-pit mine in Nevada to China, where it was eventually processed into copper wire. For the long journey, including a stop in Wendover on the Nevada-Utah border, Raven took more than 60,000 digital photographs, which she narrowed to 7,000 and edited into an animated sequence. She also recorded ambient sound along the way for the film’s soundtrack.
“Ideas” is a series of three poetic phrases in solid silver by artist Katie Paterson of Scotland. Each phrase is the beginning of an idea that describes works that exist, are yet to exist or may only exist in the mind.
VOTE FOR ART<br>Those 21 and older are invited to attend UMFA’s Annual Contemporary Art Acquisition Celebration, an evening of food, live music and art.<br>When • Saturday, Nov. 4, 6 p.m.<br>Where • Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 410 Campus Center Drive, Salt Lake City<br>Tickets • $75, for those 21 and older. Festive attire encouraged<br>Details • While anyone can attend the celebration, only UMFA Art Lovers — those who have paid the $500 membership — can cast an official ballot for the art acquisition.