Bountiful • An art center that has thrived in Bountiful since being founded in 1974 with help from the University of Utah is leaving town this month.
But patrons of the Bountiful/Davis Art Center should not despair. The popular facility expects to return to Bountiful in about three years. Until then, the center that features exhibitions, classes for adults and children and family activities will be housed at Farmington's historic Memorial Courthouse. The August Summerfest International Art and Folk Festival the center sponsors will remain at its traditional home in the Bountiful City park.
"This is another interesting chapter in our history," said Emma Dugal, the center's executive director. "The plan was to renovate this building. It is over 50 years old and it needed a lot of renovation. We got looking at that while deciding how to move forward. We decided it wasn't worth it."
So the building at 745 S. Main Street in Bountiful that has been home to the center since 1997 will be torn down and replaced by a smaller Bountiful City Hall. The current city hall, just across the parking lot at 790 S. 100 East, will be renovated with $2.4 million in Redevelopment Agency funds and will serve as the home of the Art Center and the Bountiful History Center.
"We've been here for 15 years, and there is a lot of nostalgia," said Dugal, who prepared for the big move in late December as the final exhibit was about to end. "I think it's a cool building. It's a 1960s kind of retro building. It's been a great space for the arts center … We loved being here."
The problem Dugal and her board faced was how to survive during the renovation. Davis County recently constructed new offices in Farmington, leaving its historic Memorial Courthouse almost empty. The county agreed to allow part of the courthouse's second floor to house the art center until its new Bountiful facility is ready.
"The fun thing about this move is that one of our board members, Scott Durrant, is a designer," said Dugal. "He looked at the space and a LeConte Stewart print. He grabbed the color from that print to paint our office. The offices will be different colors representing LeConte Stewart paintings."
As has been the case since its inception, the art center will rely heavily on volunteers to make the move happen. After all, it operates on a relatively meager $200,000 annual budget. The Bountiful Lions Club will paint the new space and members of Genesis, a youth correctional facility, will help during the physical move from Bountiful to Farmington.
The change happened quickly. The first show at the new Farmington facility, the group's annual statewide exhibition, is scheduled to open Feb. 22.
Dugal brought some diverse talents to the center when she began 15 years ago as a 20-hour a week bookkeeper making $7 an hour. She is a trained midwife with a degree in art who enjoys painting. She became the center director in 2007.
"I've always been an artist," she said. "I don't claim to be anything of the caliber of artists who display at the center, but I've always had an interest in art."
She compares organizing the Summerfest, a place where she met her future husband Guy in 1998, to a pregnancy. The free event that brings artists from all over the world to Bountiful and draws about 20,000 visitors each year takes nine months to plan and stage.
"When it comes together, we feel like we are giving birth to something," said Dugal, who displays a painting from a South American artist she purchased at Summerfest over her desk. "I can be very painful. We are relieved when it is over. We take off a couple of months, and then start again. This will be its 25th year."
Thus, 2013 begins as a busy, eventful new year for the Bountiful/Davis Arts Center. But the center and its popular programs appear ready to not only survive changes, but thrive while emerging even stronger.