What do the letters CUAC stand for? Residents of Sanpete County know - Central Utah Art Center. Originally a stone granary and mill, it was transformed into an art center last year. It officially opened on May 25, 1991.
CUAC houses two galleries and an educational facility.The Main Gallery is reserved for temporary exhibits designed to expose the community to contemporary art work as well as high school and college art competitions.
The Upstairs Gallery is filled with art by members of the newly formed cooperative. Paying their dues regularly allows these artists to exhibit their work in the gallery.
The lower level is designed for classes and workshops.
Is it possible for a gallery to thrive - or even survive - in a small town like Ephraim? After all, a large percentage of the town is made up of students attending Snow College, and they don't have the money to buy expensive art.
Daniel L. Vincent, co-manager of CUAC, says "Yes." In fact, he has been surprised at the response. He pointed out that although no freeway passes through Ephraim or even close to it, a number of historical bus tours stop here. "Tourists see this restored building and walk in."
He said that a number of Sanpete County artists wouldn't blossom without this kind of exposure.
But selling art is not the only goal of CUAC. This non-profit organization also wants to provide an art experience for the region, bring traveling shows into the area, and offer art appreciation, history and studio classes for artists at all levels of abilities.
Although paintings and sculptures by Dennis Smith currently fill the Main Gallery, high school students of Central Utah have been invited to participate in an art show that will open Feb. 12 and continue through March 25. This will be followed by a one-man show by former Ephraim resident Floyd Breinholt. After that, the gallery will spotlight artwork by students at Snow College.
Vincent said volunteerism is the key to CUAC's success. College students get cooperative credit for minding the store. He added that Gerald Day, president of Snow College, has been highly supportive. And he's highly dependent on his co-manager Kathy Peterson; Jeri Dean, the workshop coordinator; and Ned Erickson, who has taken the initiative to keep the facility spotless.
The building's restoration was made possible from a grant from the Community Impact Board of Salt Lake City. Allen D. Roberts of Cooper/Roberts Architects in Salt Lake designed the renovation. And actual restorative work was done by Craig Paulson. The project won an award last year from the Utah Heritage Foundation.
CUAC is located at 96 North Main in Ephraim. The center is open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday - and by appointment. If you find the facility locked, walk next door to the Ephraim Sampler Gift Shop, where a spare key is kept. And if that shop is closed, call 283-4021, ext. 234, and ask for Dan Vincent. His office is only a hop, skip and a jump from the center.