Despite hazy skies and sizzling temperatures, the Urban Arts Festival proved a bustling success at the Gateway Mall this Saturday.  Over 100 booths lined the open-air mall and offered art from all media, including clothing, henna, pottery, painting, and jewelry.  All works were handcrafted by Utah artists.  The festival drew thousands of visitors.  It typically attracts around 15,000 attendees and exists as a favorite in the local art scene.  Last year, it was voted Utah’s Best Indie Art Event of 2013.

Booths were only one of the many attractions.  Musicians and local bands played a variety of styles, and dance performances appeared throughout the day.  Fashionistas enjoyed an urban fashion show.  Other events included a student film festival, graffiti, kids’ yard, interactive artworks created by attendees at the festival, and skateboarding demonstrations and displays.  Food vendors offered visitors tasty snacks as well as a beer garden.  There was something for everyone, and we look forward to next year!

Artists featured in the slideshow include Jennifer Seeley, Shaun Noble, Sarah Ann Larsen, Bill Gerrard, Jaynie and Ed McQuirk, Nora M. Choquette, Delatorre Studios, and Maxx Cohen.  Thank you for sharing your work with us!

Photographs and the slideshow were taken and compiled by Juliette Bradley.  Music comes from Nine Inch Nails “7 Ghosts I.”

School ended over a month ago, July heat descends upon us, and boredom sets in. So what can we do to liven things up? To experience a fun, free, and family-friendly event, I suggest attending the Urban Arts Festival.

The Urban Arts Festival occurs this Saturday, July 19th, from 11 AM to 10 PM at the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City. The festival includes over 100 artists; varying types of music, including jazz, hip-hop, and funk; dance performances; skateboarding displays and workshops; urban gardening workshops; various projects designed by local youth groups and artists; along with food and beverage vendors. There is even a kids’ yard for our youngest visitors. Come and enjoy the various displays, have lunch, and do some shopping.

To get an idea of the urban art experience, check out some images from last year’s festival.

JIMMI TORO, Muse

JIMMI TORO, Muse

Success for local artists appears when they have the opportunity to exhibit out of state.  It expands Utah’s art scene and forges its place in the contemporary setting.  Artist Jimmi Toro represents such success with his recent exhibition in California.  HB Punto Experimental in San Diego at 2151 Logan Avenue exists as a cutting-edge gallery that recently opened last month and currently displays Toro’s newest works.

Toro indicated that “This exhibition was a bit different than others I have been involved with. No official title and the venue is a brand new gallery.”  The 5,000 square-foot gallery exists in the living space of California artist, Hugo Heredia Barrera.  It’s part of the Barrio Art Association (BAA), a fairly new organization that attempts to help art groups and venues throughout the community and attempts to avoid gentrification.  It’s an attempt to protect art venues from being pushed out by rising land prices.

Toro continues, “The owner of the gallery, Hugo, wants to make his gallery not so traditional. The location is not typical retail space; in fact you have to go down an alley in what may be described as a poor part of town. Most of the buildings down this alley have security fences, razor wire, locked metal gates, etc. Also, the building is located in a very Hispanic part of the city. Hugo is creating a gallery to promote art that he feels is not the typical art found in the main street galleries. Every now and them you have a movement in a city of galleries who want to offer something cutting edge. Like that restaurant that is hard to find, but people who care about the best food will know about it.”

What about the exhibition itself?  “The show was also a bit different. No prices on the art, no real attempt to actively sell art the night of the exhibit. It was a party atmosphere instead of a traditional gallery show. They had a DJ, and a fashion show to add to that atmosphere. Very edgy stuff.”

JIMMI TORO, Poise

JIMMI TORO, Poise

Toro described the San Diego art scene and discussed the difference from Utah’s scene.  “The biggest differences would be the amount of people in Southern California and the Latin influence. Also, the art scene in general is more advanced and on the edge. Less conservative for sure.”

As with any show, creating the art represents only part of it.  The business of selling becomes another aspect.  “My favorite thing to do is to create the art, so the social promotion part takes a bit of gearing up for. People want to know so many things about the art and on a personal nature, so I do my best to keep the subject on the art. With that said, I am humbled by all the nice comments and interest I do get. And yes, it is a great way to get in front of the right people who both purchase my art and who are connected to that industry. So many artists do not get the opportunity to have their work displayed during a gallery exhibit. It is a honor for sure.”

What about the artist’s connections with viewers?  What impact does it have on him as an artist to see people’s reactions to his work?  “Creatively not much. I am very focused on what it is that I create and why. Rarely do I take comments and implement them. At this San Diego show I had a guy suggest that I have my art for rent. Interesting concept, but not for me. Occasionally someone will offer some creative suggestions, but I take it for what it is. Like I said earlier, it is a humbling experience to have viewers love what it is that I do. I always feel very fortunate that way.”

JIMMI TORO, Solitude

JIMMI TORO, Solitude

While this exhibition at HB Punto Experimental runs for two months and proves important, Toro also has exciting future projects, including, “my music/art project and an exhibit project with fashion designer Keith Bryce called ‘emotions.’

Toro continues, “I am also the featured artist at the Kimball Arts Festival Gala event on July 31st, prior to the Park City Art Festival. Their theme is a fusion of art and fashion, and they are using my art for this. Fun stuff.”
To experience more of Toro’s works and to learn more about the artist, refer to his website at: http://www.jimmitoro.com/
ROB ADAMSON, Snelgrove II

ROB ADAMSON, Snelgrove II

Despite recent rain and chill, long summer evenings await. What better way to celebrate the weekend with the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll on the twentieth? Various local galleries will be participating, including Alderwood Fine Art, Caffe Niche, Phillips Gallery, Lab at the Leo, Urban Arts Gallery, and the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, just to name a few.

Galleries stay open late, from 6 to 9 PM, and offer chances to meet and greet local artists, to sample delicious food, and to experience the vivid art culture of Salt Lake. This week, we want to spotlight the show at Alderwood Fine Art, entitled “Iconic, Ironic, Ionic.” Their press release defines iconic work, “as distinctively recognizable places, buildings, signs, or inanimate objects,” including Rob Adamson’s example of the Snelgrove sign. The show will continue until July 11th.

Such an exhibition forces us to consider what buildings and locations we consider “iconic” in our Utah landscape. (Seeing the Snelgrove sign reminded me of childhood summers and driving to pick up an ice cream in the evening heat.)  Works also include cityscapes of downtown Salt Lake, landscapes, and playful images of our local BYU and U of U rivalry.  It seems important to consider such works within our local context since we are defined by it.  Consider how much of our childhood memories, knowledge of place, and identities as Utahns are forged by our unique context.

Yes, the gallery stroll is free event and a lot of fun, but it also reminds us the importance of local art and the importance of community appreciation.  By understanding the world around us and by experiencing regional art, we better understand ourselves.

COURT BENNETT. Pot-Bellied Prickle, 2003, mixed media.

Try to imagine an evening filled with cutting-edge art, conversations with the city’s most successful artists and gallery owners, and delicious tastings.  What if you could experience such an evening for free?  As it is, you’d be imagining the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll.  The Salt Lake Gallery Stroll occurs the third Friday of every month and offers visitors the chance to enjoy Salt Lake’s art galleries after hours from 6-9 PM. As always, this event is free and self-guided, so you can bring dates, friends, or family members along and experience the art at your own pace.  Participating sponsors and galleries vary from month to month, so there is always something new to discover.  This event offers a great opportunity to enjoy artwork and artists that we have in our own community.  To see which galleries are currently participating and to discover some of the evenings’ special events, refer to the gallery stroll website at: http://www.gallerystroll.org/.

TRENT ALVEY. Blue Lotus 3, part of Blue Lotus Lake: Losing the Illusion of Separateness, an installation at Art Access, Salt Lake City, 2001, acrylic on canvas, 4′x4′

Don’t let the thoughts of parking uptown dissuade you; free public parking exists at the Rio Grand Depot where the Rio Gallery resides.  Parking meters also appear at various locations downtown, or you may decide to take the Trax to the Gateway and to walk from there.

Attending the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll offers a great opportunity for students in the arts, art history, or humanities.  What better way to find inspiration for art projects, to talk with artists and gallery owners about what it takes to succeed, and to relate the local art scene to current studies in your classes?

Classroom Project:

As an individual or as a class, attend the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll.  In response to this experience, answer the following questions.  Remember to be familiar with the questions and word counts before you go, so you’ll know what to look for, and be sure to bring a pencil and paper with you, so you can take notes.  Each question is designed to help you critically think about the artwork and to appreciate its context.  Enjoy!

JOHN BELL. JMB, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 34″x64″

1.  List the galleries that you visited (you must have experienced at least three galleries), and, in a few sentences for each, describe the galleries’ specialties or focus.

2.  In at least 150 words, comment on the galleries’ presentations.  Describe each gallery’s overall layout and on the handling of artistic display.  How does the layout and handling of display affect the viewer’s experience?  Is it designed to appeal to specific viewers?

3.  In at least 150 words, describe one of the broad collections that appealed to you.  A broad collection may include works done by a specific artist or works that represent a specific theme, geographic region, or subject within one of the galleries.

4.  What kind of information is provided about the works on display?  Indicate specific sources that were available.  Where would you look if you wanted to discover more information about an artist or artwork?

5.  Choose several of your favorite works from this experience.  Describe why these works appealed to you.  Be sure to mention the name of the artists, date of the works’ creation, style, medium, etc.  Your response should be at least 300 words.

6.  In what way did the artwork relate to what you’ve learned in class?

7.  Describe your personal reaction to experiencing the gallery stroll.  Would you like to participate in this kind of event again, and would you recommend this experience to others?  Why or why not?  Must be at least 100 words.

8.  In your opinion, why is this experience so important to art, art history, or humanities students?

DSCN1017[1]As the end of the school year approaches, students take their last tests, turn in portfolios, and prepare for the next year.  It’s a busy time, but exciting experiences present themselves.  Such an experience occurred at Hillcrest High in Kari Bennett’s studio art classes.  Her Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate students enjoyed a visit from local artist, Maddison Colvin.  Colvin, an artist in residence at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, lectured and led students in a project.DSCN1011[1]

Kari Bennett described the experience.  “Maddison started by showing some of her own artwork, including some examples of image mapping she had done. The students were really intrigued by her work, particularly a watercolor bug series based on the swarming and grouping habits of insects. She also brought along a sketchbook, which was perfect for this group to see because it had both drawing, painting, and writing in it. It was as much a journal and an exploration of ideas as it was a sketchbook, which is exactly how these students are supposed to work. She brought a box full of beautiful little images of everyday objects painted on individual cards. On the back of each card, she had typed everything she knew from experience and memory about that particular object. The students really loved the typewritten information on the back and several asked where to get a typewriter.”

DSCN1021[1]In describing her lecture and discussion with the students, Colvin focused on the idea of individual knowledge.  “We looked at informational art (maps, anatomical drawings, botanical/naturalist paintings) from antiquity and talked about visual art’s ability to transmit or record information. This type of information about location, appearance, topography, etc. can often only be accessed through images, and at one point in time, all of those images had to come through an artists’ hand. Then, after the invention and popularization of photography, we had a much simpler and more direct way to transfer visual knowledge from one spot to another.  Now, for example, the easiest and most accurate form of mapping is through satellite imagery, not meticulously hand-drafted atlases.”

Colvin continued, “Artists, therefore, are in the position of taking the visual language of informational art (the appearance of mapping, the systems of scientific documentation, the techniques of naturalist painters) and appropriating it into their own art. Rather than these artworks communicating something universal, they communicate the knowledge or idea of the individual artist.”DSCN1028[1]

After her lecture, Colvin led students in a mapping project of their own.  “We each drew a map of the United States from memory on transparency sheets. This reflected our individual knowledge. Then, we took these transparencies and projected them onto a single sheet of paper, tracing each one on top of the one before. Eventually, we had a map of the United States that represented the classes’ cumulative knowledge. Then, we added another layer of data to the map by applying different colored dots.  The dots represented different levels of experience, including where we were born, places we had lived, places we had visited, and places we could picture but hadn’t necessarily been to. When this data was put on the map, we made observations about how our knowledge was biased towards our own geography (the western United States), which was fairly clear and well-populated with experiences. This was repeated to a lesser extent in the northeastern US, which students were familiar with, as well as with Florida. However, the midwest was a mess of chaotic lines and very little experiences, and we had a discussion about why that might be. In the end, we had a pretty interesting art object on our hands.”

DSCN1023[1]Mapping shared experiences led to a deeper understanding of the artistic process.  According to Kari Bennett, “The students found the exercise really thought provoking, which was perfect for this group. They want to think and explore ideas and this was a great project to get them thinking. We followed up by responding to the experience in their sketchbooks and by coming up with other possibilities for this approach to making art. “

Why is such an experience important to burgeoning artists?  Bennett responded, “What I think is so valuable for these students about having these guest artists come is that they get to see the artistic process from a living, breathing, working artist. (I’m afraid they see their
teachers as teachers before artists.)  They get to see how they work, what they do, and why they do what they do. It excites them and exposes them to the kinds of possibilities available. It makes art and being an artist a little more real for them and inspires their creativity.  It inspires mine too! These artists always bring something new to the table. As a teacher, I can’t possibly expose them to everything, and these experiences bring in fresh, new, thought-provoking ideas. I would do it more often if I could because the students love it.”

Not only is the experience beneficial to students, it also proves beneficial for the artist.  Colvin commented, “I loved working with the students at the school. They were insightful, interested, engaged, and had interesting observations and questions. It was great that they were so game to try a pretty nontraditional collaborative art project. A positive experience all round!”

MADDISON COLVIN, from "Typologies"

MADDISON COLVIN, from “Typologies”

Colvin continued by discussing why such visiting artist opportunities prove so important.  “I think it’s helpful for students to see that there are artists working in their community. It’s an all too common conception for students that art isn’t feasible outside of school, or that they’ll have to make their art a certain way for it to be well-recieved, or that they’ll have to move to New York to make a living. The chance to see artists working in a wide variety of media and subject matters within Utah is great.  It encourages students to pursue a thoughtful and highly individual artistic practice and encourages them to see that practice can lead to a successful body of work. While we didn’t have time to do this during my visit, I think it would be wonderful for students to visit one-on-one with artists and get some form of individual critique. This kind of outside perspective was always what spurred me on to new and interesting things as a student. “

Thank you to Kari Bennett for providing  photographs of the event.  And thank you to our kind community partners for making such visits possible.  A special welcome to our newest partners in Murray, including California Pizza Kitchen, Macaroni Grill, and the Cheesecake Factory.  The Foster Art Program Blog couldn’t do it without your support!

MADDISON COLVIN, from "Typologies"

MADDISON COLVIN, from “Typologies”

May 20th will be an exciting day for Kari Bennett’s International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement art students at Hillcrest High School.  Local artist, Maddison Colvin, will visit and lead students in a mapping project.  The project, originally planned for May 6th and 12th, will allow students to create maps of Hillcrest, Utah, the US, etc. and will allow them to explore their associations and knowledge of place.  In an age of information, it’s fascinating to discover our individual and accumulated knowledge.

Colvin recently earned her MA at Brigham Young University.  She teaches, creates, and also works as the current artist in residence at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.  Stay tuned for her experience and the students’ experience at Hillcrest next week!

We also wish to welcome our newest community partners, the Fashion Place Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen.  Without you, we wouldn’t be able to sponsor such visiting artist events at our local schools.  Thank you!