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Dumke Arts Plaza funding honors namesakes’ love for Ogden

By Lorie Buckley - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Nov 23, 2021

Photo supplied

A photo of Edna Wattis Dumke and Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke, provided by the Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation.

The Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation is the lead funder of the Dumke Arts Plaza, opening Friday, Dec. 3, having contributed a gift of over $2.2 million to support the new civic space located in the heart of Ogden’s Nine Rails Creative District in honor of its founders and their commitment to the city.

The current board of directors of the Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation remark how much their grandparents loved Ogden: “We, their grandchildren, want to express how important this project is to the Foundation. Our gifts for the design and construction of the Dumke Arts Plaza, the Beacon sculpture, and the improvements to Ogden Avenue are made in honor of our Founders — Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke.”

Edna Wattis Dumke was one of the eight Wattis children born in Ogden. Zeke Dumke arrived in Ogden after medical school, married Edna, and in 1919 started his practice not far from the site of the new arts plaza. Their home on Van Buren was a gathering place for family and friends. Later, Zeke and Edna built a home on 29th Street where they treasured the sunsets and their view of Ben Lomond.

Zeke loved sports, Weber football, fishing, his patients and the community. Edna also loved sports, horses, skiing, the arts and service to the community — interestingly, she was one of the early female skiers at Snowbasin.

Zeke and Edna established the Dr. Dumke Foundation 64 years ago with a commitment to support medical education and their other charitable interests. The Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation has gifted $40 million toward the betterment of communities in the Intermountain West throughout its history.

Image supplied, Ogden City

A rendering of the new Dumke Arts Plaza by Sasaki Associates.

During Dr. Dumke’s 42 years of practice in Ogden, his major interests included continuing medical education for surgeons and bringing the latest medical techniques to the community. Mrs. Dumke’s interests and gifts were directed toward the arts and cultural activities in the area.

The board views the foundation’s support of the Dumke Arts Plaza as its “trifecta legacy gift,” which they said recognizes their grandparents’ commitment to Ogden, their interest in the arts and their love of the outdoors. “As the lead funder, the Foundation is tremendously excited to be able to help create this amazing new civic asset for Ogden residents and visitors alike.”

The foundation is proud to partner with RAMP, Ogden City, Weber State University and Ogden Contemporary Arts in creating this civic space where the community is invited to engage with art of all forms.

The community is invited to celebrate the grand opening of the Dumke Arts Plaza on Friday, Dec. 3, from 6-9 p.m. at 445 25th St., on the corner of 25th Street and Ogden Avenue.

The event will serve as the premiere of the plaza’s inaugural exhibition by internationally renowned American sculptor Chakaia Booker, curated by Weber State University. Also on display will be the Beacon, a permanent sculptural piece that extends from the plaza over 25th Street. Invited speakers will make brief remarks at 6:15 p.m. and performances will take place throughout the evening. All are encouraged to attend and celebrate the Dumke Arts Plaza as a new arts-focused space for the community.

For more information about the Dumke Arts Plaza, visit ogdencity.com/DumkeArtsPlaza. Ogden City encourages community members and organizations interested in hosting arts programming and events at the Dumke Arts Plaza to visit the website for more information.

For more information about the Chakaia Booker exhibition presented by Weber State University, visit https://weber.edu/shawgallery/upcoming.html. The exhibition will be on view to the public from Dec. 3 through May 15, 2022. The exhibition is presented in partnership with Ogden City and Ogden Contemporary Arts and is made possible by the support of the Dr. Ezekiel R. and Edna Wattis Dumke Foundation, the Matthew S. Browning Center for Design and the Telitha E. Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities.

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