BOUNTIFUL — Visitors to the new Howa Gallery in Bountiful can expect to be impressed — and perhaps overwhelmed — at the selection of art that awaits them.
The gallery, located at 390 N. 500 West, opened earlier this month and takes its name from the gallery’s owner, artist Thomas Howa, an enthusiastic proponent of artistic expression and growth in Davis County.
According to Howa, the gallery is a response to the increasing artistic excitement of the region. In addition to his gallery, the Bountiful Davis Art Center recently opened at 90 N. Main St. after an extended renovation and move.
“Davis County is the fastest-growing county in the state and has the highest median income as well; the growth in the area has been phenomenal and has the ability to expand,” Howa said.
Howa Gallery and BDAC plan to collaborate and organize events that will involve members of the local community. One of the proposals is a Bountiful gallery stroll — a similar event is a staple of the Salt Lake art scene and works to showcase exhibitions and familiarize visitors to the galleries in their area.
“The misconception of Bountiful is that it's a sleepy community that is far away from Salt Lake,“ Howa said, “but it’s actually closer than people think.”
Thomas Howa worked in the construction industry for more than 20 years before becoming an artist in the early 1990s. Since switching to art full time, he has gained representation with multiple galleries in the Western United States and participated in a number of exhibitions in the Salt Lake Valley. While he maintains important ties to the Salt Lake art scene, he sees Bountiful as a distinct market for showcasing Utah’s talented artists.
“Supporting the artists is crucial to me,” he said. “I understand how it is as an artist myself.”
Howa represents 36 artists who vary significantly in style, medium and technique. The majority of these artists are well known in the Salt Lake art scene and keen to branch out into what they perceive as the interesting new terrain of Davis County.
Howa’s optimism and enthusiasm is infectious as he remarks often about the thrill of working with Utah artists: “Utah has a solid base of artistic talent, and I think it is admired and it’s growing. I feel very fortunate to have the roster we have.”
Among a number of mediums and styles to choose from, many bold, attractive abstract paintings stand out in the exhibition space, including work by David Maestas, Bill Lee, Toni Youngblood, Chauncey Secrist and Alexander Hraefn Morris.
Layne Meacham’s striking painting “Protea and Oxalis Lilies” greets observers with a series of brightly colored abstract shapes intertwined in a vibrant visual field. Reminiscent of the high modernist masterpieces littering major museums, the painting showcases the joys inherent to abstract art.
The gallery also has a number of realistic works, such as Nichole Houston's "Bye Bye Boys," an attractive pastel drawing of a horse and rider. Houston's delicate handling of the subject and incorporation of acute detail affirm her mastery of technical precision.
While paintings constitute the majority of the collection, the gallery also carries sculptures, jewelry and clothing. Located in a bustling commercial intersection, the gallery capitalizes on shoppers and diners in the nearby area. The location, as well as the aesthetic, were selected consciously in hopes of breaking down the pretentiousness often associated with cultural institutions and to invite any and all to share in the thrill of art.
If you go ...
What: Howa Gallery
When: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; and by appointment
Where: 390 N. 500 West, Bountiful
Scotti Hill is an art historian based in Salt Lake City. She teaches art history at the University of Utah and Westminster College and works as a freelance curator and writer.