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arts & entertainment

PEOPLE WILL TALK.

Mestizo GALLERY’S CURATOR wants to debate politics and race. BY EMILY NORELL

Jendar Marie Morales, director and curator of Mestizo Institute of Culture and Arts, was raised in Puerto Rico by a professional trumpet player father and visual artist mother. Not surprisingly, she knew as a child she would pursue a career in art—some area of art, anyway. After dabbling in ballet, opera and music at Brigham Young University, Morales still hadn’t found an area in which she excelled. And during an art trip to Europe, she visited Paris’ Louvre Museum and discovered her passion. “I’ve always loved art, but I’m not good at it,” she says. “That’s why I decided to study art history, learn to appreciate it and learn the history of it.” Morales went on to get her masters degree in Museum Studies from New York University. After internships in New York, Morales returned to Utah to open with friends The Art House, a pop-up gallery. “We used people’s houses for the shows and called it ‘Art in the Living Room.’ ” When Mestizo had an opening for a curator, Morales saw her next step. “I’ve always followed Mestizo because I’m Latino and I loved everything they were doing.” she says. “I was really excited because I wanted to start curating again.” The artists she plans to show at Mestizo Gallery will share a mission of using art as a tool for activism and to create conversations within and between groups. “We are trying to generate shows that create dialogue,” she says. “Whether it’s race, identity or something political, it’s a conversation that other galleries in Utah might not produce.” Beyond the art exhibits and supporting programs, Mestizo plays host to tango and yoga classes, book clubs and a coffee shop. “If there’s a gallery that’s perfect for me it’s Mestizo,” Morales says. “It’s a very alive gallery.” Mestizo Gallery, 631 W. North Temple, maacollective.org

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Salt Lake Magazine May June 2016