A river bank isn’t where an art gallery would usually be located, but members of the Cache Valley Morning Rotary Club decided it would be the perfect place to display artwork inspired by the valley’s wetlands.
“It really started out as a kayak project, but then we said, ‘What if we made it special with some artwork that they can look at?’ And it just kind of morphed into all of this,” said Trace Skeen, the club’s service committee chair.
Skeen said club members wanted to make the kayak trail located on the Little Bear River near 4800 West 600 S., just outside of Mendon, more accessible by building a dock.
From there the project evolved into a gallery featuring about a dozen pieces of nature-inspired art painted on wood pallets.
“It just really emphasizes how much wildlife we have in the area that maybe people don’t realize,” Skeen said.
Elaine Ricks has been painting since she was in ninth grade and contributed two pieces to the exhibits. Her wildlife scenes are based on the views from her home in Benson.
“This is the beauty of the land and the area that we live in because there is so much wildlife that we see and we capture in our own area," Ricks said. "We don’t have to go anywhere.”
Carolyn Davidson, another one of the artists, said she used to come to eat lunch and watch wildlife where the gallery is now located.
“When he said it was here, I wanted to be part of it,” Davidson said.
For her piece, Davidson painted two mallard ducks in front of Providence Canyon.
“I thought it was such a neat, fun idea,” Davidson said.
Many of the other pictures in the gallery were painted by students in local schools. Two were created by a 12-year-old boy who lives in an orphanage in Cambodia that the club has a partnership with. Residents from local assisted living facilities also contributed.
Skeen said the plan is to rotate the art in the gallery each year and that he is working with local schools to spread the word and gather submissions. He said there is also a possibility additional outdoor art galleries could be installed in other parts of the valley.
“It was a lot of work,” Skeen said. “I am really happy with it. I am a person who has a lot of creativity … and my vision of a project is always greater than the actual. But this, I’m just very happy and so grateful to meet these incredible people.”