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Volunteering for Urban Arts Alliance's Connect program has helped artist Logan Madsen earn two exhibits of his work. But it's just as significant that monthly Connect events have helped him find an artistic community, says Madsen, who describes himself as a self-taught fine artist.

Madsen, 36, a graphic designer, has a rare medical condition that, coupled with lung problems and autism, makes it difficult to be around other people. Left to his own devices, he says, he would choose to spend most of his time living and working alone. But volunteering as a photographer at monthly Connect showcases at the Alliance's Urban Arts Gallery offered him the incentive to leave his studio.

"As an artist, you need the experience of someone looking at your piece and walking away after 5 seconds, as if it's nothing," Madsen says. "It's sort of soul-crushing, but you need it, so you're doing art because you want to do it, not because you're trying to impress people."

This year's seventh annual Connect Gala fundraiser takes place Friday, Dec. 9, at the Urban Arts Gallery (see box for details), an event that's the culmination of year's worth of showcases, serving nearly 200 artists and some 2,300 viewers. At each monthly event, artists vote for their favorite work, and then at the Gala, winning artists receive $4,000 in grants.

The monthly open-call art events offer a chance for emerging artists to network with others, as well as "share their genius," says Michael Christensen, programming director of the Urban Arts Gallery in The Gateway. In addition, the Connect program — the only program of its kind — offers labs for artistic collaboration and live drawing classes.

Jesse Feveryear, 24, of Cottonwood Heights, has challenged himself to bring new work to each of the year's Connect showcases as a challenge to create new works. "I break pictures and put them back together," he says, describing his work as "glitch art," which means he creates new images from digital files using unorthodox tools, such as audio editing tools. —

Coloring a community

Urban Arts Alliance hosts the seventh annual Connect Gala, a fundraising party and exhibit to celebrate emerging Utah artists.

When • Friday, Dec. 9, 6 p.m.

Where • Urban Arts Gallery, in The Gateway, 137 S. Rio Grande St, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $10 at Urban Arts Gallery or online; $15 at the door