The Eccles Art Center is celebrating Pride month. Two events, the “Colors of Pride” exhibit on display now through June 26 and “Getting to Know Encircle” on June 17, offer education and recognition of the LGBTQ+ community in Ogden.

“The Eccles Art Center is proud to celebrate Pride Month,” stated Eccles on its website.

The 2nd Annual Colors of Pride competition opened with a reception on Friday, during Ogden’s First Friday Art Stroll, at which time award winners were announced and funds were raised to support Ogden Pride OUTreach and Encircle.

The Colors of Pride contest was started “to allow artists the opportunity to explore colors and concepts of Pride,” said Eccles’ Assistant Director Debra Muller. Artists were asked to create a piece, in any medium, using the colors of the updated Pride flag.

This year, 40 artists participated and 52 pieces were entered, according to Muller.

“When the world is disheartening, a show of support and acceptance is all that someone needs to feel understood,” reads a statement on the Eccles website.

One Best of Show and five honorable mention awards were selected by juror/judge Greg Rogler from A Gallery. Two EAC awards were chosen by Eccles staff.

Best of Show was awarded to Salt Lake City artist Steven Sheffield, who also won Best of Show for his submission last year, “Walking on Sunshine” (which has since sold).

Sheffield was “shocked” to win twice but said he feels strongly about participating “to support gay artists and allies of gay artists.” His award-winning piece this year, titled “Colors of Pride Squared,” 20-by-26 inches on canvas, is a similar geometric style using a water-based medium that characterizes most of his work.

Ogden artist and Northridge High School art teacher Wendy Dimick-Smith, who submitted two pieces this year, won an EAC award for her flag piece titled “Pride, Passion, and Persistence.”

It was the first time Dimick-Smith had participated in the event. After seeing the Colors of Pride contest fliers, she told her students about it. Several of them wanted to enter, inspiring her to submit two pieces of her own. She said she wanted to participate because she sees the “torment and tears” of her students who are gay, transgender, bisexual or other “controversial lifestyles.”

“I see their transitions and frustrations — trying to figure out how to fit into society with their ‘abnormal’ morals, values and desires to live their lives differently than most,” Dimick-Smith said. “I see their struggle to tell their parents and find acceptance.”

Dimick-Smith got the idea to make a Pride flag out of metal having already painted and sold several tattered, weathered and worn American flags that she draws onto “rusted, wrinkled, galvanized metal.” She then paints the metal to look like a burned, war-torn flag. This time, she painted one with the rainbow colors of the Pride flag, adding positive words across it.

All of the award-winning pieces and submitted works for Colors of Pride will be on display in the Main and Carriage House galleries during regular operating hours until June 26, along with the “Show Us Your Pride” fundraiser.

All submitted art pieces can be viewed and donations made at ogden4arts.org.

For each donation, made in one’s own name or in honor of someone, a rainbow heart will be displayed in the Main Gallery for the duration of the Colors of Pride exhibit, with funds going to support Ogden Pride OUTreach and Encircle.

“Getting to Know Encircle,” at Eccles Art Center on June 17 from 7-8 p.m., is an opportunity for the community to learn about the Utah nonprofit “where LGBTQ+ youth and families thrive” and its expansion in Ogden.

The Encircle team will be there to talk about “your newest neighbor” and provide networking, music performances and refreshments.

The new three-story, brownstone-style Encircle home, slated for completion in spring 2022, will be located near 25th Street and Washington Boulevard. Until then, kids can sign up for telehealth counseling sessions (first is free) and attend online friendship circles, according to Executive Assistant Laksham Lingam.

Lingam said Encircle has been wanting to expand to Northern Utah, particularly due to the high number of youth ages 12-18 who travel far distances to other Encircle houses for services. The most heavily-used programming includes therapy, offered to LGBTQ+ youth, young adults and their families, and friendship circles that support specific ages and groups.

Encircle is currently seeking therapists for Northern Utah and welcomes donations through their website: encircletogether.org.

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