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"Giving everyone their fifteen bytes of fame".
July 2002
Page 3
Public Issues
Main and the Muse: Taking it to the Streets
15 BYTES is a forum for public discussion for visual arts issues.  The following is a message from Jon Blanchard about Mayor Rocky Anderson's Sights & Sounds Downtown program followed by a reply from Paul Bingham, chairman of the Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts.  15 BYTES is eager to post comments and suggestions of how the art community and the city of Salt Lake can work together.  What are your thoughts?  Write us.View comments on this article here
To view a copy of the Sidewalk Performers and Art Display Ordinance click here.

Sights & Sounds Downtown
by Jon R. Blanchard 

A packed Washington Square hosts the SLC Jazz Festival this past July 4th weekend.

As a part of  Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson's initiatives for the re-vitalization of Downtown and Main Street, and to facilitate opportunities for artists, the Mayor’s office has started a new and unique program called "Sight & Sounds Downtown."  This program was established to take advantage of the energy and spirit generated by the Winter Games, and to encourage residents and visitors to rediscover and re-establish Downtown SLC as the premier gathering place in Utah. 

The program includes musicians, performers, artists, merchants, property owners, and SLC Corp. Community & Economic Development, RDA and the Office of the Mayor.  While a major focus of this program is Main Street, the scope of the program encompasses the entire Downtown Core.  A major component of this program as we see it involves visual and perfoming art.  The vision for a new Main Street includes a variety of Art, Cultural and Entertainment oriented businesses, such as galleries, restaurants, and specialty retail stores.  We are looking for a significant shift in the area, and wish to create a unique environment that captures the imagination and capitalizes on the many existing cultural and entertainment assets presently Downtown. 

A shift has already begun on Main Street.  As many as 16 left-over Olympic food kiosks on Main Street have been transformed into 22 foot tall Pyramid Murals created by local artists, facilitated by the Sights & Sounds program. Live music, entertainment and performers are also keeping the weekends alive.  In addition to these activities, we have scheduled other art-oriented events to take place this summer and fall.  

We are currently planning to host a monthly grass-roots (Utah Artists) Arts Celebration on Main Street to include visual artists, performing artists, crafts, live music, demonstrations, etc. to be held on the third weekend of each month.  By having these Celbrations on the third weekend of each month, we hope to support and strengthen the monthly Gallery Stroll. 

We also want to encourage and facilitate other opportunities for Utah and Salt Lake City visual and performing artists.  We would very much like to invite and assist young artists in displaying, selling and performing their work in these celebrations and in other public spaces, and encourage local artists to consider mentoring a young artist.

The Sights & Sounds Downtown program operates as a special event every weekend on Main Street and can facilitate public events for groups interested in using Main Street for public, all age events and activities.  These may include art, entertainment, benefits, etc.  In addition to currently providing musicians, bands and performers on Main Street, Sights & Sounds Downtown is establishing a plan to: coordinate programming with and for the Downtown Malls (Crossroads Plaza and ZCMI Center), The Gateway and Downtown Merchants. We are providing promotional materials to highlight events and activities downtown; and through sponsors, provide advertising for events and activities downtown.

As mentioned previously, we have planned art oriented events for the summer and fall. However, our main objective is to facilitate ideas and support groups with their art and entertainment oriented projects and events.  We would like to extend an invitation to all "Artists of Utah"  to get involved.   For information call:  801-725-6662

Dear Mr. Blanchard, 
The Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts is certain that this is the right idea for downtown Salt Lake City. It is our plan to move the foundation headquarters to that area soon as we believe that the venue is not just important for Utah, but for the intermountain west. We believe that a new and creative point of view that is more professional than a street fair needs to be addressed in such a way as to bring a higher level of participation into the mix. There are already many art fair approaches that can continue to be held in parks and local communities.

What Main Street needs and wants is a row of high level professional establishments that deal in fine art at all levels and approaches. We need to demonstrate to the world that we are indeed a seriously cultured and established art community with deep and broad clarity and substance; with roots in American art that precede the California movement and all the other groups, western, modern or otherwise that occurred in the west. This should be our purpose. Otherwise we will never have sustaining interest as the average art buyer needs to come from the world and not just our local community. It is the art buyers and not the browsers that will support and make this successful.

We need the serious buyers here.
Paul Bingham
Chairman, Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts

Gallery Spotlight 
Artspace Forum

Remember when "West Second South" was considered the seedy part of town? Well, all that has sure changed! With the development of the Gateway project underway, there is now more and more to do and see there, especially for art lovers. 

Take the Artspace Forum Gallery, for example, one of Salt Lake's newest galleries. Located at 511 West and 200 South, the gallery opened in April with the exhibition “Spring Again…” by T.K. Stephens and in July is featuring the works of Laura Crawford.

The 4,400 square feet glass-walled gallery is itself a work of art, with moveable display walls and events space for rental. Along with displaying the works of artists from Utah and beyond, the gallery will be the site of other community cultural events such as literary readings cosponsored by the University of Utah Department of English, bringing authors such as Grace Paley to Salt Lake City this winter.

The gallery is the latest achievement in Artspace’s twenty year mission to revitalize the industrial west side of Salt Lake City by developing cultural facilities and affordable spaces for artists, art organizations, and others. The gallery is on the first floor of the mixed-use Artspace Bridge Projects, which offers three floors of affordable rental housing above and a combination of commercial, educational, and cultural facilities on the street level. The Bridge Projects was designed by Prescott Muir Architects and received the 2001 Merit Award from the Utah Society of the American Institute of Architects.

Artists interested in mounting an exhibition at the Artspace Forum Gallery should call 521-5999. Artspace is also inviting artists to submit up to three works for display in a collaborative show opening September 19. Check out the Announcements section for more information and the application form.

So ignore the torn up roads and construction cones in the area that unfortunately seem planned to keep visitors away and take in this beautiful new downtown gallery. It's just a block or two from Pierpont's galleries and just a few doors away from the also new Mestizo Gallery. 

Artspace Forum Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 5:00 p.m. Call 521-5999 for details.

Artspace Forum is not the only gallery contributing to the increased excitement in downtown Salt Lake City.  

Pam O'Mara's Utah Artist Hands gallery on 1st South (see our 15 BYTES article) has done wonders to help revitalize a long-neglected block of Salt Lake City.  Plans for artist studios above the gallery are being developed and new businesses have followed her lead and begun to occupy some of the spaces across from the Salt Palace.  This month at Utah Artist Hands the artwork of Serena Supplee is being featured until August 10th.