Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

September 24, 2019
Community Art

Tooele Arts Guild looks to grow membership, expand offerings 

A taste of the artistic talent in Tooele County is on display for the next month at the Tooele City Library, with wood carvings, paintings, photographs and more.

The art is created by Tooele County artists, professional and amateur alike, and the show is the third annual organized by the Tooele County Arts Guild. The theme, “It’s All About Art,” relays the inclusive nature of the art show and its organizers.

Counting the contributions for the children’s art show at the same time through the Tooele Boys and Girls Club, there have been more than 60 submissions to the art show, according to Tooele County Arts Guild president Nila Jane Autry.

“It is a really wonderful mix,” Autry said. “We have almost equal amateur versus professional. We have teenagers, we have old, old people. We have all ages coming in.”

While art was already on display Monday evening, the show official opens tonight at 6 p.m. and runs until Oct. 24.

The best art in any discipline or division will receive $100; there are two divisions, amateur and professional, which will receive cash prizes for placing. The show will be judged by artists from Local Colors of Utah Art Gallery in Salt Lake, with the winners announced tonight at a reception beginning at 7:30 p.m.

“We’re not quite big enough yet to divide into oil paintings versus watercolors versus sculptures, so we just do amateur and professional,” Autry said.

There may not be enough submissions for separate media-based subdivisions yet, but the growth in the arts guild has been significant in recent years.

Autry said the guild began as the Stansbury Art and Literature Society, but was rebranded after the passing of founder Pat Jessie in May 2018. Autry, who was president at the time of Jessie’s passing, took over the nonprofit founded on Jessie’s hard work.

“We immediately changed the name because we felt like Tooele County Arts Guild has a more inclusive name, because so many people thought it was just for Stansbury people,” Autry said.

The change is also intended to capture more residents moving into the county with a talent for, or interest in, art. Autry said the guild is mostly centered around visual arts due to its roots, but is looking to expand into music, drama and other performance art.

“We’re really excited,” she said. “We feel like this is Tooele County is exploding and a lot of new move-ins and they’re going to want to find the art, so that’s another reason we changed (the name).”

The visual arts are right in the wheelhouse for Autry, who is an oil painter and art teacher at Bonneville Academy in Stansbury Park.

Painting is a popular discipline for the Tooele County Arts Guild, evidenced by the turnout at its paint party last month, which brought in 42 participants. Autry said the group is housed for its monthly meetings, held on the fourth Tuesday, free of charge by the Coulter House in Stansbury Park.  

“It just seems like every time we meet, we get bigger,” she said. “We get new members, we get more excitement and it’s just kind of exploding right now.”

The membership of the arts guild has all kinds of ideas for murals and sculptures around Tooele County’s communities and other public art offerings to complement its event schedule, Autry said. The guild currently hosts two big events, the art show and an arts fair in the spring.

In addition to working with local institutions like Tooele City Library, the arts guild is connected to local art studios, including Fox and Raven Studio in Tooele and Black Rabbit Studio in Stansbury Park. Another significant development came through a $500 grant from the state Division of Arts and Museum for the art show to cover publicity costs for the event.

The Tooele Arts Guild will also be at the Utah Honey Harvest Festival at the Clark Historic Farm on Oct. 11 and 12. There will be display space for plein air paintings and other local art for attendees to enjoy, according to Autry. 

Plein air painting, or painting outdoors, is another offering from the arts guild, which hosts a weekly session during warm weather. With the arrival of fall and cooler temperatures, participants will move indoors with the focus on still life and model paintings. 

The goal, no matter how the Tooele County Arts Guild grows and evolves, is to grow the art scene in the area, according to Autry. Near future goals include a proposed art barn at the Coulter House. 

“We just want people, if they’re doing art, to quit hiding it in their basement and come show us what they’re doing,” Autry said. “We want to support artists as they struggle to emerge. It’s hard to be an artist and make any money.”

The Tooele County Arts Guild meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Coulter House at 7 p.m. Yearly dues are $25 for an individual or $40 for couples, and the guild is open to all kinds of artists ages 16 and up. 

For more information on the Tooele County Arts Guild, visit or the guild’s Facebook page.  

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