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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Crossing Paths exhibit open to public

Jul 31, 2018 02:01PM ● By Aspen Perry

Crossing Paths artist Jim McGee speaking to exhibit attendees. (Aspen Perry/City Journals)

By Aspen Perry  |   [email protected]

The foyer of City Hall was a bustle of artists, portrait subjects and art enthusiasts on Tuesday, July 10, for the opening of the Crossing Paths exhibit.

Large canvases containing graphite pencil portraits of Holladay residents, drawn by artist Jim McGee, along with descriptions of those pictured, popped off the walls encouraging art-goers to get to know their neighbors. 

“I’ve always been a fan of Humans of New York, and the art had to reach out to the community in a meaningful way,” McGee said of what inspired him to submit the concept to the Holladay Arts Council. “So I thought what if I do these portraits, and they can tell a story.” 

McGee described submitting his grant proposal moments before the deadline, which he began writing during his lunch break on the day it was due. 

“At 4:59 (p.m.), I busted through the door, not thinking I would get it,” McGee said.

Despite being apprehensive at the possibility of being selected for the grant, McGee felt there was something special within the concept of connecting people in the community through art and is thrilled at what has transpired. 

During the opening celebration, McGee thanked his portrait subjects for allowing him into their lives. 

“These fine folks opened up their lives to me — they were vulnerable,” McGee said as he addressed the crowd at the exhibit opening. 

In addition to finding an interactive way of connecting the community, the medium of graphite pencil also brought McGee back to his teenage years — he said abstract-style painting used to be his main artist medium. 

“My first love was graphite pencil. I don’t know why I chose it for this project, but I’m looking forward to staying with portraiture and then working with painting,” McGee said. 

As mentioned in the July issue announcing the Crossing Paths’ exhibit, finding portrait subjects took McGee a bit out of his comfort zone as he met with those who responded to the February Holladay Journal article announcing the project, in addition to venturing out into the community.

“The criteria was he couldn’t know them,” said Sheryl Gillilan, executive director for the arts council.

She pointed to one of the photos and explained the gentleman featured in the portrait was the owner of the Chevron station on 4500 South. The intent, she said, was to represent the diversity in Holladay’s community. 

Lisa O’Bryan, arts council chair, noted, “What’s fascinating is all the diversity he’s brought here today.”

O’Bryan went on to say the arts council was able to secure a grant for the following year, with the intent to have the art exhibit expanded. 

“We’re trying to figure out how to expand the idea, because this is exactly what we need right now,” Gillilan said. 

Gillilan continued, “Connecting with your neighbors, it’s the people you see every day but you don’t know what their stories are.” 

McGee delved into the concept of sharing stories as well when he spoke to the crowd. “Everybody has a story, and everybody’s story is important, and everybody is beautiful.” 

He further challenged viewers to take more time to listen. “I challenge everyone to listen a little bit more carefully, and look a little more closely at the people you cross paths with.” 

Holladay residents interested in being a model for the 2019 show are welcome to apply at City Hall. The exhibit will remain open until August 6, and those interested in viewing the exhibit are welcome anytime, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.