The new Ogden Contemporary Arts (OCA) Center officially opened in February, but the nonprofit organization has been making an impact in the Ogden arts scene for years.

Formerly known as Ogden First, OCA was one of the first to set the stage for the planned arts district in 2016 with the installation of PLATFORMS, an outdoor venue for visual and performing arts on what was previously a barren corner of 25th and Adams.

The roughly 2,000-square-foot lot with eight 13-by-13-foot concrete pads to display various works of art is now a destination instead of wasted space and a recognized marker of the Nine Rails Creative District. It’s a daily art experience for the public to enjoy and be inspired to create.

Currently on display at PLATFORMS is an interactive, light-based art installation titled “Paradboxes,” designed by Lauren and James Argo.

The installation features eight 4-by-4 polycarbonate cubes, each programmed with their own pulsating light sequence, with touch and motion sensors that respond to interactivity. From OCA’s site: “The boxes appear to emerge from the ground in various glowing colors with transparent finishes; each shape was made from reclaimed outdoor composite material that is weather and tamper resistant. The sculptures exist in a dimly lit resting state that begins to glow brighter as it senses an approaching visitor or passerby, beckoning them through the installation with sequential lighting effects.”

Stated the Argos, “Individually these sculptures represent elements of our local culture and highlight the beauty of simple geometric abstraction. Cumulatively they represent hierarchies in nature and the passing of time ... Iconographic etchings and typography on these shapes bring the viewer’s attention to paradoxes present in our experiences as humans.”

Across the street, inside The Monarch, is another accessible art space — the OCA Center.

The OCA Center began its vision “to engage local artists with the wider contemporary art world” with the grand opening exhibit, “The Changing Room,” by Los Angeles-based artist Lauren Lee McCarthy, currently on display until May 30.

“The Changing Room” questions the impact of artificial intelligence on our daily lives. According to the OCA site: “The interactive art installation explores an environment of smart architecture that controls emotion, and a control panel on the second floor where visitors can select one of two hundred emotions that emits a layered response of lights, sounds, and visuals. ‘I’m hoping it brings up the question of what’s at stake when we bring AI into public and private spaces, and the ways our emotional experiences are mediated by technology,’ said McCarthy.”

OCA’s multi-use space, consisting of a ground level “garage” gallery, digital art room and second-floor gallery, will continue to house installations from the national and global art scene while empowering and inspiring local and regional artists.

Venessa Castagnoli, executive director of OCA, is excited about some upcoming exhibitions for the center, including one (free to the public) that will run from June 11 through July 26, and four nights of live performances for which tickets will go on sale in May.

Also in the works is “Social Undistance,” a contemporary dance experience, in collaboration with Ogden MoveMeant Collective, Jo Blake and Cam McLeod.

From the project statement: “What we collectively experienced through shared isolation is at the core of this project. In collaboration with the dance company, Ogden MoveMeant Collective, we set out to explore how shared isolation can affect the human experience and what can happen when physical contact is replaced with digital tools meant to mimic the real thing. The interruption of human movement is a degradation of the human experience. As we attempt to move beyond the traumas imposed by this great disruption, how we redefine our human experience is at the heart of that healing process.”

In addition to art installations from globally recognized artists and accessible art space for local artists to collaborate, OCA members are invited to a private Happy Hour two Fridays a month. To become a member and learn more about OCA, visit

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