Meet Our Staff: 5 Questions for Adele Flail

It’s another Wednesday in March, so that must mean it’s time for the next installment of Meet Our Staff! We hope you’re enjoying this series! Next up is Adele Flail, a fascinating Renaissance Woman who does great work here at the UMFA.

Adele Flail, UMFA employee and urban homesteader.

Adele Flail, UMFA employee and urban homesteader.

5 Questions for Adele Flail

What is your role at the UMFA? Describe a typical (or memorable!) day on the job.

I’m the Development and Marketing Assistant—because I help out in two different departments, my job is pretty eclectic—in one day I might process checks and prepare membership cards, edit an article for our quarterly member newsletter, or put together an email about an upcoming event. But I would say the core of my job is helping the Museum communicate with its friends and members—making sure that the community knows about all of the insanely awesome exhibitions and events that happen at the UMFA—and knows how much the staff appreciates the support that makes all of the insanely awesome stuff possible!

What is your favorite work in the collection, and why?

Ralph Albert Blakelock’s oil painting Silvery Night. One of my favorite things is walking at night: whether it is hiking in the mountains under a full moon or just wandering through the city streets after they’ve emptied, I love the quiet and solitude—the feeling that this new, mysterious world was made for you alone to explore. I love works that try to capture the feeling of this secret, peaceful time—and because so many of the sensations that make up the experience night come from the sounds, or the smells, or the way the air feels against your skin, it is really fascinating to me that Blakelock was able to capture the sensations so well in a purely visual media—I can hear the susurrus of the leaves and the small waves licking at the rocks in the crunchy/grainy texture of the paint, and the longer I spend looking at it, the more senses I feel come alive, until I can almost smell warm spring dirt and feel a light breeze rustling the hairs on my arm.

"Silvery Night" by Ralph Albert Blakelock. Gift of Marion Sharp Robinson, conserved with funds from the Ann K. Stewart Docent and Volunteer Conservation Fund

“Silvery Night” by Ralph Albert Blakelock. Gift of Marion Sharp Robinson, conserved with funds from the Ann K. Stewart Docent and Volunteer Conservation Fund

What are your favorite parts of this city and this state? When you’re not at the museum, where might we find you?

I spend a lot of time working on our house/homestead—but I also enjoy camping in the San Rafael Swell and the Uintas with my husband—his whole family has been exploring the region for 40+ years, and know all the great places to visit—including some amazing, somewhat secret places that I haven’t been privy too yet. In Salt Lake, I love the Jordan River/Legacy Parkway trail—where else can you encounter ducks, beavers, a pond full of croaking frogs AND convenient access to a fully stocked library?

What is your favorite way to pass the time—what are your hobbies, your talents, your interests?

My husband and I bought a fixer-upper in the Fair Park area several years ago, and we spend most of our time working on the house, and trying to turn it into an urban homestead. We keep chickens and a garden and are landscaping primarily with edible plants. It has been a slow process—we’re in an ongoing battle with bindweed, which always tries to eat our tomatoes—but we’ve already learned a lot, like how to slaughter a chicken or re-building a pocket window out of oak—and I love how much there is to know about what happens right in your own yard, from the botany of weeds to practical skills like joinery!

An urban homesteader! I’d love to hear more about your pioneering efforts making a home in Salt Lake City. I also happen to know that you illustrated a book! 

I’m a self-taught artist—my degree is in biology, but I’ve always drawn and written in my free time. Several years ago, I created a few images—these were almost “science illustrations”—for a column about the natural world that had been running in Catalyst Magazine for 15 years—which apparently helped spur a local publisher to offer the lovely and talented author Diane Olson the chance to turn her work into a book: The Nature Lover’s Almanac: Kinky Bugs, Stealthy Critters, Prosperous Plants, & Celestial Wonders… and I was asked to provide the illustrations!

Adele, seen here with her awesome book

Adele, seen here with her awesome book

This was an amazing opportunity: it forced me to improve (there are about 150 illustrations in the book, and each took about five hours to produce) and came at a time when I was coming to the realization that I wanted/needed to be an artist, so it was a very encouraging experience from a skill-developing standpoint. I still have so much to learn about the process of art-making, and I’m currently trying to figure out the best way to take this more seriously in my life, and to increase the repertoire of skills and techniques that I’ll need to move forward.

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