Public Events: Salt Lake City
Where can you go on a Friday or Saturday
night and see artists congregating on the sidewalk selling jewelry, painting
landscapes, making didgeridoos, or chiseling African stone? How about
listening to live music, watching interpretive dance, or having your kids
make their own hula-hoops or mosaic art? San Francisco? Chicago? SoHo?
Street in Salt Lake!
it! Pick yourself up off of your keyboard and hang on tightly to your mouse,
because it's finally true. Salt Lake has a burgeoning and thriving public
art community on Main Street! If you're surprised, you're in the same
boat as the downtown passersby, where the reaction has ranged from surprise
to pure gratitude. One twenty-something was heard to say, "I can't believe
this! I've never seen downtown like this." Most of the comments from the
general public seem to be, "Thank you!" and "Finally!" "Mainly Art" has erupted
down on Main Street, and it could be here to stay.
this come to be? For years various grass roots organizations and individual
artists have diligently worked to make our downtown rival other cities
in regard to public art and selling on the street. Selling freely on the
street. That means no fees, no booth regulations, and no registration.
Trying to integrate this type of art into an already thriving art scene including
successful galleries, clubs and theaters seemed difficult at best.
Bruce Case painting on Main Street
That was until a hot, muggy day in August of this year, when the
idea of art on the streets began in earnest. Mayor Rocky Anderson called
together a group of public artists and city officials to discuss the possibility
of this kind of event actually coming to fruition. The decision was made
to finally "just do it." "It" being to get artists of all genres out on
This goal was not without hindrance, however, since the ordinances
for public artists are firmly set, and these ordinances are difficult
to circumnavigate without breaking certain laws. After much debate, it
was decided that, at least for this year, a Special Events Permit would
need to be issued, which would alleviate some of the more stringent details
of the artists' ordinance.
Salt Lake City
stepped forward and donated the permit, and things began full steam.
Ambiance lights were meticulously strung from trees, storeowners were
informed of the decision, and banners were hung. But the big question lurking
in everyone's mind was, "Would any artists show up? And would they then continue to show up weekend after weekend through the end of October?
Thankfully, the artists showed up en masse and descended on Salt
Lake's Main Street. As Dr. James "Torg" Torgerson sat whittling gnarled
wood into lit walking sticks, we converse about his experience selling
various Shamanic Art items, as well as doing hands-on integrative healing
to those who needed it. "It's been fun to see people with diverse talents
get together under one cause," he says. Noting that people have been very
interested in what he is doing and he's sold quite a few things, he adds
enthusiastically, "We're never going to leave!"
Next to Torg is Renee Shaw, a mosaic artist and a volunteer artist
on the committee that made "Mainly Art" happen. She teaches classes in
mosaic art and has a huge piece of wood set up where the public can come
and either watch Renee make the mosaic, or smash the tiles themselves and
then glue them down to her piece. Shaw says that she enjoys "the environment
of being around the other artists. I like the idea of art being out in
the community." Though she has had success at selling her beautiful mosaic
pieces, she is not in it for that reason. "My main objective is to have
the interplay of artists and community." The community seems to be eating
My own Hardwear Jewelry booth is located in a bustling spot directly
in front of Nordstrom. My business partner, Lisa Oliver, and I have been
amazed at the amount of people who stop and peruse. Oliver says, "This
is unprecedented for Salt Lake, and we're hoping we see this grow year
after year." Next to our booth the "Wanderlust" bus pulls into an
empty parking spot, and unloads a veritable art community in and of itself.
Stephen Dean of the Peregrine Adventure Club begins setting up his
huge metallic hula-hoops, as his friends and various children grab hula-hoops
and the fun begins. Dean is a performance artist and entrepreneur, and when
he is not performing his show on the sidewalk, he is making and selling
didgeridoos. And his own clothing line as well. Durable canvas and denim
pants, bags, skirts and shorts hang from the outside of the bus, which is
itself a factory on wheels. The bus is equipped with two industrial sewing
machines so he can make your special order on the spot. Dean says, "This
is the way urban downtown should be: alive and not dead. This is Salt Lake's
own Renaissance. We are literally waking up to the arts."
Further down the sidewalk, artist Bruce Case has set up an easel
and is painting with oil on a large canvas. The painting is of Main Street,
looking south toward the old clock. The vibrant colors mesh together to
create a most authentic view of Main Street -- a Main Street that is alive,
thriving and filled with artists, poets, musicians, and dancers. This painting
ends up hanging in a prominent spot in my living room as I fell in love
with it the minute the brush hit the canvas. Bruce has returned almost every
weekend in various spots, painting every angle of Main Street, and delighting
everyone that happens by him.
Walking south to the corner, a band called "Zentherstick" is setting
up. Their motto is, "Instruments you've never seen. Music you've never
heard." Kent Rytting, Matt Hepworth and Tony Korologos begin pulling
out instruments that make their motto seem like an understatement. They
begin playing a Zendrum, the Chapman Stick and a Theremin. As promised,
these are sounds we've never heard, but they are amazing and mesmerizing
sounds. A crowd quickly forms and adults and children alike are smiling
and swaying to the music. More acoustic musicians come and go throughout
the day and evening, each staying as long as they desire, and leaving with
a hatful of dollar bills and a promise to return to Main Street.
This could go on ad infinitum. There’s Ed, the Native American
artist carving detailed cuchinas in wood and selling his pencil drawings.
Token and Alex, of No Fierce Streetwear, are having a raging success
selling their unique wristbands. Various street poets and singers co-mingle
and enjoy a beautiful fall day. All participating in a form of art yet
unseen in our city. We finally have the beginnings of a thriving, bustling
outdoor art community in downtown Salt Lake. Our hope is that it will
As the evening comes to a close downtown, the artists begin to
pack up. Before the Wanderlust bus pulls away I'm conversing again with
Stephen Dean and his friends. Dean said it best when he said, "This experience
downtown is more of a belief in what can be; a downtown being alive with
art, poetry, music and dance. We can only grow and live and learn when
we openly express ourselves freely."
If you are a visual artist, crafter, or performance artist, come
downtown and set up wherever you want for free. Just choose a spot on
Main Street in Salt Lake between South Temple and 200 South on the west
side of the street. The times are Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. and
Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. If you love art, come and support
the artists and musicians simply by showing up downtown with your family
or friends. "Mainly Art" runs until October 25th, when the "Last Blast"
party will happen to bring it to a close.
(For more information, call the mayor's
office at 535-6338.)
Utah Art Projects
Do You Know These Artists?
Judy Dykman, of the University of Utah's Marriott Library's Fine Art section
is compiling a bibliography on Utah artists and needs your help. Dykman
has collected books, periodicals, web sites etc. on over 250 well known
Utah artists. She is looking for any information, references or contact
information on the following artists:
Berry, Michael Willie
Fehner, Greg B
Peterson, Rose Ann
Judy can be contacted at:
Artists of Utah Projects
Artists of Utah
Artists of Utah has for a long time wanted to compile a web directory
for sites on deceased artists of Utah, similar to our listings for live
artists. We would like to compile as many sites as possible for each artist.
To do this, we need a team of volunteers who would be willing to work
for an hour or two a week for the next few months to compile a directory.
If you are interested in helping, please contact us at
Do you or your organization
have an art project the Artists of Utah community can help you with? Email
us at firstname.lastname@example.org