Nestled between the unique mix of historic and modern buildings, near the bottom of Ogden’s historic 25th street lies one of Ogden’s most unforgettable art galleries, Pandemonium. I’d be hard pressed to name my favorite thing about this place; the strange and stirring collection of out-of-the box art, the eclectic mix of featured artists and various mediums, the small and intimate space. But truly my favorite part about this place is the owners, Jane and Vince Font. I’ve known Jane and Vince since our customer service days at a Citibank call center and to see them a short decade later, so engaged in the community and living such a hands-on, creative life is precisely the reason I keep going back.
If you aren’t sure you know enough about art to frequent visit one of the many art galleries in Ogden, Pandemonium is out to prove you wrong, and what a great place to start. The unique mix of artists, styles, and mediums is sure to stir something inside your soul; the very purpose of art, after all.
If you want to one-up your art experience and delve a little bit deeper, participate in a Pandemonium Paint Party. In these monthly events, Jane and her staff will walk you through creating your own painting, step by step. These parties are known for producing amazing art from even the most inexperienced participants, and are sure to help you pull things out of your heart you didn’t even know were there.
I am so glad Jane and Vince decided to set up shop in Ogden, and I feel especially lucky for the chance to interview Jane for this spotlight. Her answers sent me reaching for the artist within.
Interview with Jane Font, owner, Pandemonium Gallery
How long have you both lived and/or worked in the Ogden area?
- I grew up in South Ogden and Vince grew up near San Jose, California. I transplanted him here in 2000. We currently live in Roy, but want to move to downtown Ogden within the next year.
What made you decide to open an art gallery? Why in Ogden?
- When I was a little kid, anytime I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I’d say, “An artist.” I was always doing something artistic, but honestly wasn’t every very good at it. Throughout my entire life, though, that passion for art never left me. But I was always frustrated that I could never find an art gallery that showed the kind of art that really inspired me, so I decided to be the art gallery I wanted to see. Now I guess I can say I AM an artist, because my gallery is my creation.
- I chose Ogden because it still has a small town feel but there’s also this undercurrent of an art movement starting. I think it’s a really exciting time to be involved in Ogden’s history, and I wanted to be a part of that.
What attracted you to this particular location?
- 25th Street is so dynamic, colorful, and feels like a community. That’s what drew me here in the first place. Even though the art in Pandemonium is a little on the strange side for Ogden, I figured this street would be the perfect spot because of its eclectic nature and history.
How did you come up with the name for your gallery?
- I needed a name that really let people know what they were in for when they stepped inside. I’m very fascinated with entropy, or the tendency of all things moving from order to chaos, and I wanted to impart that feeling into the name as well. A few thesaurus searches led me to the word ‘pandemonium.’ I’d considered several other names, but the second I hit on pandemonium, I just knew that was it!
What kinds of art and artists does Pandemonium feature?
- Our focus is on local, underrepresented art. We love art that uses alternative mediums and subject matters, traditional mediums used in different ways, and art that just challenges people. My favorite saying about art comes from the famous street artist, Banksy. He says, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” That’s exactly what I want.
What is unique about Pandemonium? What do you want people to know or notice?
- We believe art should be about expression and not just aesthetics. It goes back to the quote about art being simultaneously disturbing and comforting. Our goal is to make people question why they do or don’t like a piece of art, to experience something they’ve never experienced before, or to consider an idea they’ve never considered. Art isn’t just about being pretty. It’s about being moved somehow.
What do you think having an appreciation for art brings to a community like Ogden?
- Art brings morale to a community. It enriches life by making your surroundings interesting. If there were no art, life would just be about working until the day you died. Art, in any form, offers an escape from obligations and responsibilities, and lets you experience something different outside of the normal day-to-day.
What kinds of things would you like to see for Ogden in the future?
- I want to see Ogden become a place that’s known for art, culture, and diversity alongside its renown for outdoor activities. We have such an amazing history, and I think that should be celebrated and added to. I think all of these things are starting to happen, and it’s so exciting!
Why should someone who doesn’t know a lot about art consider visiting your gallery?
- I think people have the wrong impression of art. A lot of people think that they have to know about art history, techniques, mediums, famous artists, etc. before they can step into a gallery. That keeps people from really enjoying art, I think. Art is meant to be felt, not analyzed. You don’t have to have any knowledge of art to feel something from it.
What are paint parties? What do you hope to achieve by offering them?
- I developed Pandemonium Paint Parties specifically for the person who appreciates art but feels they don’t have an artistic bone in their body. I want to show people that if they have a desire to do something, they can do it. All it takes is giving yourself permission. We provide all of the supplies, a little instruction, and a TON of encouragement. I’ve had so many people come to the parties and express nervousness that their painting will suck. By the end of the party, I’ve yet to hear one person say they didn’t like the way their painting turned out. In fact, most people say things like “I can’t believe I painted this!” or “Wow, I should paint more often!” I always tell people who are nervous that they’re not painting for anyone else. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of their painting. If they enjoyed themselves, experienced something different, challenged themselves, and are proud of their accomplishments, it’s enough. My ultimate goal is to empower people artistically because I think that affects so many other aspects of our lives.
Pandemonium Art Gallery
155 Historic 25th Street, Ogden