City Weekly: Best of Utah
BEST LOCAL-POP GALLERY article here
Caleb and Hillary Barney have already established themselves and their gallery/apparel store as one of the biggest hotspots in the city for experimental and local-culture artwork, but this past year, the gallery expanded on two fronts. First, it became a shop for the alternative Utah Jazz fan with the now infamous “Jerry” T-shirts that have been popping up at games and on TV. Second, it’s expanded to include books and literature of artists and designers from around the country that normally wouldn’t have a spot in a Utah book store. We can only wonder what they’ll add next.
City Weekly: Arty Award
BEST TIMELY ART SHOW
Blonde Grizzly’s Utah Jazz-themed Group Show
The Utah Jazz basketball team has always been one of the most consistently unexciting in the NBA when it comes to off-court personnel turmoil, but that changed this year when longtime coach Jerry Sloan abruptly quit on Feb. 10, and superstar player Deron Williams was traded Feb. 23. Smack dab in between those dates, the Blonde Grizzly hosted the previously planned Utah Jazz Themed Group Show that included more than 20 local artists—including Sri Whipple, Trent Call, Dan Christofferson and others—creating works inspired by the team and its players. Sloan’s sudden departure inspired a slew of last-second additions to the show, including some superfly T-shirts adorned with the stern Midwesterner’s visage that are still available, months after the show’s end.
Slug Article: Our 1 year Anniversary
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by: Spencer Ingham
When I walked into Blonde Grizzly, owners Caleb and Hillary Barney greeted me immediately and were happy to show me their latest addition to the gallery. It wasn’t a painting and it wasn’t a T-shirt or a new piece of jewelry. It was their brand new bundle of joy in a baby carriage, Lily. She slept quietly as we chatted, snug and cozy between the fixtures and decorative art lining the walls of the independent shop. The newborn baby is a fitting addition for the duo to celebrate Blonde Grizzly’s one-year anniversary this month.
“We’ve been lucky to get some shows and certain artists to come do signings, or to even work with us,” says Caleb, reflecting on their success so far. In the past year, the gallery has hosted fresh works from California pop artists such as CW Mihlberger and Dave Correia.
“We sell lots of T-shirts and that’s what keeps us floating,” says Caleb. The shop originated as a small kiosk at the Layton Hills Mall, where Caleb sold prints and apparel from his buddies at Zerofriends. The kiosk lease was expensive and only lasted three months, forcing Caleb to search SLC for a bigger spot that was more cost effective and closer to home. Blonde Grizzly opened in July 2010 along 400 South, primarily as an apparel store that also featured the artists’ work on the walls.
“When I heard of other galleries struggling, I always wondered why they never added artist apparel or prints. From the beginning, I was going to open a store that sold the prints and apparel, and the gallery just came with it,” says Caleb.
When the shop initially opened, the duo sold merch at the Twilight Concert Series to help gain some buzz for their first official Gallery Stroll, which happened just two weeks later. That showcase featured twisted and re-imagined paintings based on Saturday morning cartoons. The gallery mixed works from local artists like Vic Back, along with visiting artists, including Alex Pardee and Mark Yamamoto. The originals were displayed on the walls with T-shirts and hoodies featuring the same art sold to the side. The show garnered instant press and recognition, but more importantly, it caught the eye of the local art scene and made Blonde Grizzly a must-visit stop during the monthly Gallery Stroll.
“We knew Gallery Stroll was big, lots of people came out and [the event] would just get you exposure. It seemed like something that would work for our space, it helped get people out and get them to know the artists we know,” says Hillary.
The process of choosing what hangs on the walls and sits on the shelves simply comes down to what Caleb feels the customers will enjoy. While a lot of art comes to him through the store or email submissions, he constantly makes an effort to go to conventions and gallery shows. Caleb will search for new work and artists that haven’t been shown in SLC or anywhere else, and avoids out-of-town artwork that can be found in other stores. His approach essentially makes everything in the shop unique to Blonde Grizzly. Caleb also takes special care in being selective about pop-culture references on the merchandise.
Over the past year, the gallery has made its mark on the art scene with their themed group shows, typically centered on a single pop-culture item like sci-fi films or the Utah Jazz. These shows bring in a bevvy of local and national talent to hang a single piece on the wall. The most popular to date, and favorite of the Barneys, is the Classic Monster Show last October. The show featured over 25 artists putting their own spin on Tinseltown horrors such as the Mummy, Frankenstein and Dracula. Blonde Grizzly has also featured solo artists, including Emily Hart Wood, who took over the gallery in April for her first solo show ever. Wood blew the owners away with her array of whimsical paintings and drawings, as well as collage pieces, such as her “fortune collage” made up of fortune cookie papers from every Chinese restaurant she’s been to.
“I think we’ve gotten some good people in and it’s been fun. We’re still learning, figuring out what works and what doesn’t, but our shows have done pretty well and we’re on the right track with those,“ says Hillary.
In celebration of hitting the one-year marker, Blonde Grizzly will be throwing a show with Good Times Tattoo, who incidentally will be celebrating their tenth anniversary. The Anniversary Anniversary show will kick off on July 15 for Gallery Stroll, featuring the work of tattoo artists including Alex Hinton, Danny Madsen and Bonnie Seeley. Caleb and Hillary are already planning out the rest of the year, with confirmed secret guests for the holidays, and plan to bring in art books as part of the shop’s inventory. Those who wish to submit their artwork for possible shows can send their work to email@example.com, but are advised to check out the shop beforehand to make sure their art will fit the gallery.
City Weekly: Best of Utah Award
Best Alternative Gallery
Opening in an old photography studio in 2010, Caleb and Hillary Barney started up the clothing shop/art gallery as a forum for alternative and pop-culture artwork that probably wouldn’t see the light of day in normal gallery settings. Since then, they’ve seen massive success from their line of affordable T-shirts, hosted packed crowds for their open-gallery nights and brought new life to their small section of 400 South.
Fuel TV video highlight
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by: Laura Durham
As it is now, downtown SLC’s Fourth South is better known for its automobile traffic than its foot traffic; but as more local restaurants, clubs and galleries open for business along the thoroughfare, certain pockets may become just as congested with pedestrians. The busy stretch between State and Main is witnessing a change as pedestrians head to new destinations such as the Green Pig Pub, the House Gallery and the Blonde Grizzly.
Blonde Grizzly is the project of Caleb and Hillary Barney, a husband/wife duo who began by peddling their products for three months at a small kiosk in Layton. It didn’t take long for them to realize their products and ideas should be shared with an audience other than the shoppers at the Layton Hills Mall, so they moved the operation to the Historic New Grand Hotel on Fourth South.
“We wanted to bring the product we were currently selling and add local artists' products,” says Caleb.|1| “The Gallery Stroll is such a great program in Salt Lake that we wanted for sure to be a part of that. It seemed like a no-brainer to have our space be part gallery.”
Blonde Grizzly sells tee shirts, jewelry, clutches, cards, prints, magnets, and just about anything else an artist shows them that catches their interest. The other day a guy came in with a roll of masking tape and started making small figurines, and Caleb put a few of them on display. Each Gallery Stroll, the store features new artists on their gallery walls. They do solo shows, but they also like to do group shows. The variety that comes with a group of artists fits well with the atmosphere they’ve created.
The concept of a store/gallery isn’t a new one to Salt Lake. You can visit alternative galleries like Local Colors of Utah and UTah Artist Hands and find artist products such as bags, jewelry, clothing, and accessories, in addition to art on the walls. But each business has its own unique flavor. One thing Blonde Grizzly likes to do is invite big name artists into Salt Lake to meet the local talent, and then mingle their work and products together for the clientele. They host events where locals can meet and learn about the art outside of Utah. “Alex Pardee and Dave Correia did a signing when we were at the mall kiosk, and Tara McPherson did a signing event at our downtown location in November,” explains Caleb. “We are looking into more events like this and are so excited to bring something new to Salt Lake.”
Caleb and Hillary see the local scene starting to cater towards a younger crowd. “There is so much talent in Salt Lake. I love to see these young artists making a name for themselves and getting out there and exhibiting,” says Caleb. “Salt Lake has a huge support system with their artists. The scene seems to be growing and we want to do our best to grow with it.”
Currently, Dan Christofferson’s work occupies the gallery walls in a show called The Terrible Gentle Man. The artist describes the majority of his work as “getting at the guts of a person.” Christofferson explains: “It’s an attempt at pinpointing some vague emotional state that may be sort of hard to verbalize or easily share with people. Lately I’m obsessed with what makes us who we are down to our most brutal selves.”
The artist has human behavior distilled down to three elements: 1) things that make us happy, 2) things that make us sad or upset, and 3) things we can’t control. These different elements are represented visually with corresponding colors, shapes and symbols.
Christofferson describes The Terrible Gentle Man as the personification of who we are underneath our shells when we’re filled with these three basic groups; each of us in different combinations. The image of the Russian nesting doll or “Matryoshka” is a simple but beautiful symbol to call attention to the different layers we all possess. He hopes to push the viewer to examine what makes up the layers underneath our individual “shells.”
Christofferson’s last show for FICE helped him decide what he wanted to do at Blonde Grizzly. Previously, he created a series of large cut-out paintings based on illustrations from taro/playing cards. He sold every painting and most of the tee shirts he printed for the event – which helped him realize that when his work is affordable for most people, it creates both a desire from the public for more product, and a personal desire to create not only artwork but art products as well. The Blonde Grizzly presented itself as the perfect venue for Christofferson to allow himself to expand his work beyond one particular medium and let the art or concept dictate how it needed to be presented. From a seven foot tall painting of a Russian doll to a one-inch button with a ghost doll, this show certainly has something for everyone.
Stop in Blonde Grizzly on 15 East and 400 South in Salt Lake City and check out The Terrible Gentle Man. You’ll also just want to see the space this young couple has created for Salt Lake. In the words of Dan Christofferson, “Hillary and Caleb are doing what so many people have sorta thought about but not dared to do. It's pretty admirable.”
IN Utah This Week magazine article
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by: Daisy Blake
Ever wonder where Blonde Grizzly got its name? Co-owner Caleb Barney says he gets asked all the time if it's a combination of the indie bands Blonde Redhead and Grizzly Bear. In fact, the real answer is so much more dorky-hip. "We were watching a Discovery Channel special on grizzly bears, and there was this huge green field full of grizzlies just grazing, and the one in the front was blonde. You don't imagine bears eating grass and it was just a great moment." This answer really sums up Caleb and his wife Hillary, who run the gallery together. They are like the kids at school who were effortlessly cool, and their gallery breezily reflects that. Caleb worked in retail before starting a kiosk in Layton Hills Mall that carried the Zerofriends clothing and prints line, whose main artist is Alex Pardee. That line carried over into their downtown gallery at 15 E. 400 South, which opened in July. Caleb is now at Blonde Grizzly full time, while Hillary works as a freelance graphic designer and is also at the gallery a couple of days a week. As well as original art that changes every month, they sell clothing, prints, and jewelry, which they say keeps them in business. They always try to choose art that is affordable and that appeals to the trends they see from their customers, and if visitors want to buy a piece but can't afford it all in one go, they will offer payment plans. They say something they've discovered since opening is that it's almost impossible to gauge when the gallery is going to busy; "It's hit and miss" Hillary says. "We hope we are a destination location, so people make a trip to come and see us.." They say they would like to see another community art event added, perhaps mid-month. In December they are showing Play Nice out of New York. "We are excited but have no idea what to expect. We don't know what they're showing yet. We leave exhibits totally up to the artists" Hillary says. "They can put installations in, paint the walls, whatever they want to do." Play Nice will be followed by Utah artist Dan Christofferson, in January. Hillary and Caleb say they are excited by the way the art scene is growing in Salt Lake; they feel the more new galleries that open up, the better. But unlike the other new gallery owners, Caleb is not an artist himself. However, Hillary says "He does draw really good hot dogs. He's a good hot dog artist."
Best Geek Art, Arty awarded from Salt Lake City Weekly
Hillary & Caleb Barney, Blonde Grizzly
It takes a rare gallery to display a children’s figure breathing fire and scorching all in its path, with the clever title “St. Elmo’s Fire” below it; a small sample of the twisted pop-culture art you’ll find on 400 South. Replacing a photographer’s office, the married duo of Hillary and Caleb Barney brought in artists from around the country mixed with locals, all intent to re-envision your childhood memories. Featuring limited editions and custom prints, not to mention clothing and accessories far better and cheaper than you’d find in a trendy mall shop, the place promises to become a fixture for years to come. 15 E. 400 South, 801-355-9075, BlondeGrizzly.com
July 19, 2010
Gavin's Underground at Cityweekly.net
By: Gavin Sheehan
Back out onto Gallery Stroll we go this month for one of the hottest days of the year. Which is kinda funny since Broadway had an outdoor festival to go along with it. Despite the heat it was one of the busiest events we had all year, and while most of the action was held to 3rd South, we travel off the beaten path again for a little something awesome.
Blonde Grizzly recently opened up on 4th South, sitting next door to The Manhattan and Royal Eatery, occupying a space previously held by a photographer. But within the gallery/retailer is an artistic and geek paradise. T-shirts, prints and high-class artwork both original designs and inspired works based around cartoons and gaming from both local and national artists. After barely opening two weeks ago the place joined up with Stroll to show off everything they could for public view. I got a chance to chat with the married duo behind the place about it all, plus took some pictures for you to check out over here, showing off everything they have for sale and the artwork on display this month.
Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a bit about yourselves.
Hillary: We currently have a house in Layton, and have an adorable puppy, Bear. We really love our house, but hate being so far away from Salt Lake. We are hoping to move back to the city soon.
Gavin: How did you both take an interest in art and what were some early influences on you both?
Hillary: I went to school at the U and majored in Graphic Design. I have always loved art and have been creating things since I can remember. Growing up, I was completely content staying home on a Friday or Saturday night and creating. I am inspired by everything around me. From art, crafts, graffiti, architecture, fonts, textiles, etc.
Caleb: I love Alex Pardee and Greg “Craola” Simkins artwork. I didn’t get heavily into art until I saw their stuff. That’s why I have a store. I love their artwork and finding new artists.
Gavin: Caleb, you went to UVSC and SLCC, and Hillary went to the U. What made you both choose those colleges and what were those programs like for you?
Hillary: I am from Idaho and started out at Ricks College. I got my associates there. At that time, it was a two year school so I needed to find somewhere else to go to school. I had heard a lot of great things about the Design program at the U. I moved to SLC really fell in love with the city. I applied for the Design program at the U and got accepted. I started school there and really enjoyed the program at the U. At the time, it was heavily print based and I didn’t learn a lot about web design and such. I wish there was more focus on that aspect of design.
Caleb: I went to UVSC because my friends were moving to Provo. I didn’t want to be away from my friends. So I moved there too. I took a couple semesters of school there. When I moved to SLC, I tried school again at SLCC. School wasn’t really for me, so I kind of fizzled out of school.
Gavin: How did you both end up meeting each other and eventually marrying?
Hillary: We met through friends of friends. We dated for four years and have been married for three.
Gavin: Hillary, after you got your degree, how did you end up getting into Graphic Design professionally and how has it been for you working your way through that career?
Hillary: I got a job as a Graphic Designer for Making Memories, a scrapbooking company, right out of school. I started out working there doing packaging and catalog design. I moved to product design after about a year of working there. I worked as a product designer for about three years. I really loved my job, but always loved the idea of working for myself. I started doing freelance work while working there and eventually quit my job to just to freelance work. I now work from home.
Gavin: Caleb, during this time what made you choose retail, and what led to you wanting to quit after all that time?
Caleb: I just kind of fell into retail. I felt like a second class citizen working retail. Some customers were really cool, but most treated you like dirt. I wanted to be excited about going to work, not dread it.
Gavin: Where did the idea to start up Blonde Grizzly come from?
Caleb: I just wanted to do something on my own. I worked at the same retail job in the same position that I started in for the last three years and was tired of it. The only way that I saw getting out of it, besides getting another corporate retail job, was to start something on my own. We started with a kiosk in the Layton Hills Mall for three months. It was a good starting point, but wasn’t really what I wanted long term.
Gavin: What made you decide on the downtown location, and how was it for you guys getting set up?
Hillary: Even when we opened the kiosk in the mall, we always knew we would end up downtown. It’s a better market for what we are selling.
Caleb: We are still in the process of getting setup and getting more product in.
Gavin: How did you go about deciding what you'd have in stock, and what's the balance like between local and national artists?
Caleb: At the kiosk, we carried a line called Zerofriends. Their main artist is Alex Pardee. That’s where we started and we are carrying over that inventory into our store. Through Zerofriends, we also got connected with Dave Correia. We are working towards a balance between local and national artists. We have some local artists exhibiting artwork in our first show. We are in the process of working with more local artists and getting their product in our store. I am headed to ComiCon in San Diego this month to look for new stuff.
Gavin: For those curious, what kind of stuff can people find in the store?
Caleb: We sell artist t-shirts from Zerofriends. Their artists include: Alex Pardee, Greg “Craola” Simkins, Skinner & Camilla d’Errico. We will have Vic Back’s t-shirt line. We have limited edition prints from Alex Pardee, Dave Correia and Skinner. We have Mode Clutches by Amber Dunford. We will be adding more stuff all the time from local and national artists.
Gavin: How did the decision come about to start having exhibitions in the store as a gallery stop?
Hillary: We have always loved the Gallery Stroll and thought it would be fun to be a part of that. I love the idea of an artist coming in and taking over the look of the shop for their gallery exhibition. Being a part of the Gallery Stroll broadens our customer base and heightens awareness of the shop and the artist we are featuring.
Gavin: Speaking of, this is your first Gallery Stroll. Tell us a bit about what you have on display for this month.
Caleb: Our theme is Saturday Morning Cartoons. Based on the age of the artists, the cartoons featured are from the 80’s.
Hillary: It is a fun and nostalgic show.
Gavin: Who are some of the artists you'll have on display and how did you choose to include?
Caleb: For our first show, we are featuring a group of artists to get more people involved. The artists for this show are: Alex Pardee, Dave Correia, Vic Back, Alex Hinton, Austen Stanton, Jared Snow, CW Mihlberger, Mark Yamamoto and Nikki Goddard. We wanted to start with friends and build from there. We want to feature both established artists and up-and-coming artists.
Gavin: Moving to local for a bit, what are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?
Hillary: I think we have a great art scene. It’s definitely growing and people appreciate art here.
Caleb: I opened the gallery and within a week have had a lot local artists show me their amazing work. Salt Lake City has a lot of really great artists. We hope to be a hub for many local and national artists.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Hillary: I think our job as a gallery/store is to help people become aware of our exhibitions and give them the opportunity to see what we have to offer… and what this city has to offer. We are here to educate people on the artists we exhibit and get people excited about art. If they are stoked about what they see at our store, they are going to go home and look up more artists. That’s what is so exciting about our store.
Gavin: What's your take on Gallery Stroll as a whole and how its doing today?
Hillary: Up until this point, we have always just been “gallery strollers”. We love going to the strolls. There is always a big turnout. Now we have the opportunity to be a bigger part of the Stroll. We are really excited about this.
Gavin: What can we expect from you throughout the rest of year?
Hillary: We are really excited about the shows we have booked for the rest of the year. In August, we have Cindy Ferguson, a local artist, doing a solo show. She is an amazing paper cutting artist. September we have local artists Nick & Erin Potter of Potter Press. They do really great installations and we are excited to see what they come up with for our store. October will be another group show featuring local and national artists. It will have some sort of Halloween theme. Our year will finish off with Kalvin Lazarte who is from Utah and currently living and working in New York City. He does amazing work and he floats on moonbeams.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Caleb: Every artist that we have mentioned, check them out. We are in business because of them. They are amazing. Alex Pardee, Dave Correia, Skinner Davis, Greg "Craola" Simkins, Camilla d’Errico, Vic Back, Mode Clutches, Candace Jean, Alex Hinton, CW Mihlberger, Mark Yamamoto, Austen Staton, Jared Snow, Nikki Goddard - firstname.lastname@example.org, Cindy Ferguson, Potter Press and Kalvin Lazarte.