Portrait of a local artist
Nestled in a little red building next to Café Charleston on Pioneer Road sits our community’s first fine art gallery. Its name combines the first names of its husband and wife owners, John and Courtney Carroll. JOCO Gallery officially opened in June after John spent months upgrading the studio and building shelves to display his creations. Though small in size, the gallery is bursting with creativity.
The Carroll family had been living in Palm Springs when they decided to relocate to Utah one year ago. John had been marketing his wares at various art shows. “I was kind of getting out of shows mentally, and a gallery is really the next step,” John said.
They landed in Draper by “happenstance,” finding a house that had fallen out of escrow. “I loved the home right away and loved the neighborhood. We pulled in and it was kind of like Mayberry with kids playing,” he said.
John is from a military family that moved to Italy when John was young. He grew up in a traditional European town, off the military base, and the family took frequent trips to Venice and Florence. They also lived in the Netherlands and Germany before returning to the states to Reno. “I was packed with all this European culture, I was pretty much a European kid,” John said. After graduating from high school in Reno, he went to work at an auction house for antiques, a great learning experience for John.
Then John’s family moved to Palm Springs, a place permeated by artists and designers. John got a job at a gallery there where he eventually became an apprentice, learning about art, working with artists and selling fine art.
That European upbringing combined with exposure to antiques and art culminated in John becoming an artist himself. “There’s something freeing, therapeutic working with your hands. That’s what first made me really take the jump, that feeling,” he said.
Finding the location for his gallery was also happenstance. He’d taken his kids to Café Charleston for Italian sodas. “I sat back and started to like the feel of the place. It felt European,” he said. Riding by one day on his bike, he noticed the building was vacant, so he spoke with the owners, and JOCO Gallery was born.
John creates vessels, wall pieces, sculptures and custom work including but not limited to ceramics and woodwork such as tables. “My new phase is more the sculptures, modern,” he said. He’s mixed metals with ceramics, he’s found new woods to work with in Utah, and his ash glazing is his own recipe. “I’ve been getting better glaze results since moving here,” he said, indicating the unusual color. John creates his ceramics in the gallery but the welding and woodworking happen at his home. The gallery also sells jewelry from other artists.
“Everything just worked out with us finding Draper. It couldn’t have been a better community. It feels like the creative inclination is different, I feel rejuvenated,” Carroll said.