Dec 10, 2010

The art of giving | The Salt Lake Tribune

Artist and curator Ruby Chacón remembers the first Christmas that really meant something to her. It isn’t a memory of a 5-year-old tearing through tissue paper and ribbon. Chacón was an adult learning about the power of a gift.

“My first memorable Christmas was my first one with my future husband, Terry,” says Chacón, who owns Mestizo Gallery in Salt Lake City. “I was 20 years old and he knew how much I loved art. I never cared or looked forward to Christmas because as a child we were just too poor to celebrate it well.

“But I remember walking in the door of my future mother-in-law’s home and seeing an easel before my eyes. I felt overwhelmed and just broke down crying. It was the first time I felt that someone truly saw me. I’ll never forget it.”

Keeping in mind the awesome power of a gift, particularly a gift of art, to inspire, transform or just make life more beautiful, The Salt Lake Tribune contacted some Utah curators and artists and asked them to recommend a gift that they would be delighted to receive.

“To me, the most important gifts are those in which someone expresses how she or he sees you, or are a window into that other person,” Chacón says. “Anything that nurtures the spirit is the most important gift, whether it is tools to help someone like me create or something to help in self-growth.”

And purchasing art nurtures something else â€" struggling artists.

Ruby Chacón • curator and artist, Mestizo Gallery, 641 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City.

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Gift idea • Books, specifically Triumph of Our Communities: Four Decades of Mexican-American Art and Frida Kahlo: The Brush of Anguish

Jill Dawsey • acting chief curator at the Utah Museum of Fine Art, 410 Campus Center Drive, University of Utah.

Gift idea • Artist Myranda Bair’s series “We are Sensitive Creatures,” available at

Dawsey also recommends the biography Becoming Pablo O’Higgins by Utah author Susan Vogel. O’Higgins was born and raised in upper-crust Salt Lake City as Paul Higgins, but reinvented himself in the 1920s as Pablo Estaban O’Higgins, a political activist and important Mexican muralist and friend to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. “You can’t make this stuff up,” says Dawsey.

Micol Hebron • senior curator of exhibitions and artist, Salt Lake Art Center, 20 S. West Temple.

Gift idea • The print-sculptures of Nic Annette Miller, on view at Cafe One, 39 I St., or online at

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