Burgeoning Creative District Breaks Ground
A flexible approach to arts infrastructure in the public realm begins to take shape
On December 3, 2021, community members came together to celebrate the opening of the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke and Edna Wattis Dumke Arts Plaza, located in Ogden, Utah. The event was illuminated with colorful lights, live music, and an inaugural sculpture exhibition.
Part of the developing Nine Rails Creative District, the Dumke Arts Plaza is an arts-focused community space, a dynamic outdoor gallery, and an intimate performance venue. The plaza is designed to inspire creativity, elevate diverse perspectives, and anchor Ogden as a hub for contemporary art. The plaza will feature major art installations as well as community-led arts programming ranging from small concerts, to dance performances, to video art. It will be a space to engage with art in all its forms, but also a place for everyday gatherings — sharing lunch with a friend or enjoying a family visit.
The plaza design was led by Sasaki, in partnership with Ogden-based firms IO LandArch and Union Creative Agency.
“Ogden was ahead of the curve,” said Anna Cawrse, associate principal and co-director of Sasaki’s Denver office. “The Dumke Arts Plaza is a place that positions Ogden as a global destination for art while putting the community at the center. This design challenge, while daunting, was also thrilling. It meant we got to work closely with the community, closely with artists, art curators, the city, the community, the Dumke Foundation, fabricators—the list goes on and on.”
“We were able to blur the lines between landscape, architecture, and art to uncover a design that had never been thought of before,” continued Cawrse.
Lorie Buckley, Arts Coordinator at Ogden City Arts, Culture, and Events, also spoke at the event. “Thank you for listening to our crazy ideas, dreaming with us, and sharing your inspiration and creativity,” said Buckley. “Thank you for your willingness to color outside of the lines when we gave you the impossible task of designing a one-of-a-kind, groundbreaking civic space. Working with the Sasaki team has been an amazing experience, and we couldn’t be happier with how the project turned out. We are so incredibly happy that Sasaki was a part of this project, and we are hopeful to work with you again in the future.”
“Thank you for your willingness to color outside of the lines when we gave you the impossible task of designing a one-of-a-kind, groundbreaking civic space.”
Lorie Buckley, Arts Coordinator at Ogden City Arts, Culture, and Events
The plaza’s design, inspired by the region’s dynamic landscape, has the flexibility to support many types of art, from large-scale installations to small performances, and includes an LED screen for displaying film and video art. An elevated platform, known as the plinth, provides more space for arts programming, as well as a new perspective on the plaza and its surroundings. The Dumke Arts Plaza is a welcoming public space, with interactive play elements, unique lighting, benches, and waterwise landscaping. The plaza also features the Beacon, a new sculpture that extends from the plaza over 25th Street, inviting visitors to explore the plaza.
The plaza’s inaugural exhibition is a selection of work by internationally renowned American sculptor Chakaia Booker, which will be on view to the public from Dec. 3, 2021 through May 15, 2022. The exhibition is curated by Weber State University.
“The automotive tires that Booker uses inherently symbolize upward mobility, expansion, and possibility,” said Lydia Gravis, Director of Art Exhibitions and Public Programs at the Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery at Weber State University. “This new Dumke Arts Plaza represents the same mobility for Ogden as it enhances the Nine Rails Arts District and eliminates the barriers inherently associated with traditional ‘white cube’ art galleries and museums that sometimes deter the masses from experiencing meaningful, thought-provoking art.”
“The Dumke Arts Plaza represents mobility for Ogden as it eliminates the barriers inherently associated with traditional ‘white cube’ art galleries and museums that sometimes deter the masses from experiencing meaningful, thought-provoking art.”
Lydia Gravis, Director of Art Exhibitions and Public Programs at the Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw Gallery at Weber State University
The Dumke Arts Plaza is a major step forward in the Ogden community’s ongoing efforts to weave art into the daily experience and to create an environment where artists and other creatives can thrive.
The event was covered in the Standard Examiner.