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June 22, 2020

Harvest, Paint, Repeat! Eli Kauffman, BFA Painting ’21

by elikauffman
The team and I packaging up spinach for part of the weekly shares. An assortment of fresh produce sent out to individual members of the community, as well as to a non-profit substance abuse treatment center with whom Wasatch Community Gardens is partnered.

I am finding myself in a comfortable routine as I start my fourth week of the fellowship. Working in the gardens continues to inform the planning process for the mural work, and I am developing relationships with the people I am working with. My coworkers are made up of permanent staff, job trainees, volunteers, and a grad student from a local college who is doing research for her biology degree. Because of this diversity in everyone’s background, I am getting feedback pleasantly informed both by people who have spent years as a part of the organization, and from those who are as new to the community as I am. Now that I have really gotten the mural work into full swing, people are more interested in talking about the designs, which I am hoping will stir up excitement for the collaborative element that I am facilitating with the members of the farm in the coming weeks.

Progress on painting the locker room. The inclusion of thistle blooms felt appropriate because many people do not recognize it as anything other than a weed until it flowers with the most unique, purple and magenta blooms. Like The Green Phoenix Farm, it is scrappy, and thrives in the most unlikely environments.

Painting on shipping containers and with spray paint is new to me, and has proven challenging, but has pushed me to learn more about myself as an artist. As always with a new medium, I have to go back to the basics. I have started buying all of my supplies at a local spray paint shop, and through that have been able to get advice from other artists more acquainted with the material and surface I am working with.

Meeting the board members over Zoom. Though not as ideal as an in person introduction, they are a warm bunch, who were generous in sharing their wisdom.

Since my last update I was also able to attend a virtual meeting with the Wasatch Community Gardens board members. After having spent most of my time so far focused on the day-to-day, this was a great opportunity for me to understand the larger mission of the organization, as well as gain insight into how a non-profit functions. They talked about many ongoing projects at various garden locations, including new children’s programming that have introduced in response to COVID-19. Something else that caught my attention was information about the small educational campus that they are currently building at one of the community gardens. It will include classroom spaces as well as low income housing, all centered around permaculture and food autonomy. Not to get ahead of myself but I see this as a possible site for future public art projects that I could collaborate with Wasatch Community Gardens on. Though the fellowship will of course end at a certain point, I would love to continue to work with this organization.

Top left: Kelly using a rogue dill plant to explain how to tell if a plant has “gone to seed”. Top right: Jen collecting snap peas in our last harvest of that veggie for the season. Bottom: James demonstrating how to harvest a kale bundle.

Looking forward, these daily activities will continue, but I will also begin working on ideas for a promotion of Wasatch Community Gardens. Originally I was going to collaborate with Salt Lake City Gallery Stroll, however due to COVID-19 they are not currently doing events. An idea has sprouted from the board meeting though. James has been known to give enriching tours of the farm for potential volunteers, donors, and just visitors in general, so it seems like a natural extension for me and him to create a recorded virtual tour that talks about agriculture, art, and design. This will serve as way for people interested the participating to get acquainted with the organization and their mission. It may also aid in introducing more donors from the arts community in the city. More updates on that to come.

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