OGDEN — Three months after its soft opening, Ogden Contemporary Arts will be holding its formal grand opening, hoping to get the word out about the gallery, the city’s newest, to a broader cross-section of the public.

“We are going to splash as big as we can splash in the time of COVID,” said Cori Anderson, president of the board of Ogden Contemporary Arts, or OCA. The museum is located in The Monarch building at 455 25th St., part of the growing Nine Rails Creative District taking form in Ogden.

The grand opening is set for Feb. 12 from 6-9 p.m. with a VIP reception a day earlier on Feb. 11, also from 6-9 p.m. Entry to the nonprofit museum is free and those wanting to attend are asked to register ahead of time on Eventbrite.

The featured artist at the opening will be Los Angeles-based artist Lauren Lee McCarthy, whose interactive exhibition, “The Changing Room,” will be on display. Mask use and other safety precautions to guard against the spread of COVID-19 will be in effect.

“The concept for The Changing Room began with this question of what place artificial intelligence or smart home technology has in terms of our inner mental state,” McCarthy said in an OCA press release. “Rather than just turn on the lights or activate appliances, what if AI could activate your emotions and change the way you feel?”

OCA calls the exhibit an interactive display “that allows participants to take control of the digital installation in ways that influence the moods and behaviors of those within it.” More specifically, on the second level of the exhibit, visitors will be able to select emotions via a control panel that will then be broadcast to all “through a layered response of lights, sounds and visuals.” The display will be on exhibit through May 30.

OCA took shape in 2012 without a fixed location to promote the local art scene and has since been behind a slew of public murals and sculpture projects. Its new two-level, 4,000-square-foot site in The Monarch, unveiled during a soft opening last November, represents a big step forward in its evolution. The renovation of the OCA space cost $500,000, coming from donations, and the new gallery will be free to the public to encourage interest in the arts and to inspire area artists.

“There’s nothing like it,” Anderson said.

She said those who have visited the museum thus far have represented the diversity of Ogden, while Jennifer Burns, who helps with museum promotion, said the reviews from visitors have been favorable.

“They just think it’s incredible. It’s such a beautiful space,” Burns said.

OCA officials have big ambitions, bringing in artists from across the nation and beyond to display their work. “Our goal is to feature a variety of nationally and globally recognized artists to enhance and build upon the already spectacular art scene in Ogden and the Nine Rails Creative District,” said Venessa Castagnoli, the OCA executive director.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at

@timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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