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Art Appreciation Along the Wasatch

Different Strokes for Different Folks

“The Arts” is an all-encompassing term that includes a variety of disciplines; visual arts such as painting and photography as well as performing arts such as theater and dance. There is room for all of these artistic varieties along the Wasatch Front, and appreciative audiences for the artists who call this place home. Salt Lake County supports a lively creative community and numerous highly-respected arts organizations.

Art Is for Everyone

While some people enjoy an evening at the ballet, others prefer a stroll through a museum, or an afternoon sculpting clay. There’s no right or wrong way to appreciate creative expression and we encourage you to enjoy them all. For those of you who are new to the area, or those with a budding interest, we hope this introduction will give you some direction for engaging with the arts in our area in a meaningful way.

Public art is everywhere in Salt Lake. Take a look at this interactive map provided by Salt Lake City Arts Council that shows where you can find 130 permanent artworks throughout the city.

  • According to a recent report by the Utah Cultural Alliance, Utah is #1 in the nation for creating art.
  • According to an analysis by SmartAsset, Salt Lake City is the best place in America for creative people to live.
  • Salt Lake County’s arts and cultural industry generated an estimated $155.2 million in direct tax revenue and $60.1 million in local tax revenues.
    Despite significant losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Salt Lake County’s arts and cultural industry generated $9.1 billion in total sales, 9.7% of Salt Lake County’s 2020 Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and supported 50,877 jobs, representing 6.9% of the county’s total jobs in 2020.
  • The arts and cultural industry remain a key sector of the Utah economy, providing new opportunities for growth within even the most rural municipalities in the state and making communities attractive to business development.

Salt Lake County has been allocating for the arts since 1984, when the Percent for Art ordinance was established. City project funds are used for, “commissioning artists for services and site-specific artwork to be integrated into new construction projects.” Examples of these installations include: historically informative sculptures and plaques, colorful murals and mosaics, and thought-provoking benches. Our local landscape is rich with art that reflects the uniqueness of this place.

Salt Lake County Arts & Culture Art in Public Places Manager, Kate Ithurralde, proudly shares that, “Salt Lake County’s arts scene is bustling and thriving with energy. It’s home to over 650 arts and cultural businesses, more than anywhere else in the state.

The varied landscape in Utah is awe-inspiring. It is also art-inspiring. Artists have been moved to create incredible land art installations across our state.
Robert Smithson’s iconic Spiral Jetty (pictured above) is set on the northern shore of the Great Salt Lake. Herbert Steiner’s The Ratio and Elements are near Green River, UT, and are visible from 1-70. Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels are located in a remote area of the West Desert.

Whether it’s checking out one of 3,400 pieces of publicly owned art in Salt Lake County, getting a ticket to the Sundance Film Festival, becoming a season ticket holder for Ballet West, viewing a new exhibition at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art or enjoying a poetry night at a County Library, Salt Lake County will have an event for you to grow your appreciation for creative expressions.” Visit the county website for more information about the permanent collection and current events.

Where to Begin: Museums, Galleries, and Immersive Art

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA), located on the University of Utah campus, is an excellent place to delve into Utah’s creative culture. With the mission, “to inspire critical dialogue and illuminate the role of art in our lives,” this museum houses an impressive permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions from around the world.

The museum’s programming is inclusive and accessible to all ages. We highly recommend their Holiday Market and their family friendly events held on the third Saturday each month. Also note–admission is free for everyone on the first Wednesday and third Saturday of the month, thanks to support from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) and the Utah Division of Arts and Museums/National Endowment for the Arts.

Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA)

Located next to the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake City, UMOCA is a hub for local artists and those who want to stay current on artistic trends. This museum “believes in the power of the art of our time. Through programming, advocacy, and collaboration, we work with artists and communities to build a better world.”

Springville Museum of Art

Local artist and long-time friend of Niche Homes, Holli Yoho, has this to say about the Springville Museum of Art:

“Utah has an incredible and diverse amount of artists. One of my favorite ways to experience this is attending the annual Spring Salon at the Springville Museum of Art. It’s a juried art show of truly the very best in our state. This museum is worth your time and drive in general, there is always a good exhibit and it’s free!”

This museum is located about an hour south of Salt Lake City and houses over 2,500 works. Admission is free and guided tours are offered during the museum’s regular business hours (closed Sundays and Mondays).

From the Artists

“There is a sense of community rather than competition among artists here.”

“The creative community in SLC supports each other and encourages the projects of their peers. There is a sense of community rather than competition among artists here. It’s exciting to see the growth and development of the art scene as the city continues to evolve.”

— Ryan Harrington

“I have been blown away by the support of this community.”

“As a Salt Lake City artist I have been blown away by the support of this community, both by fellow artists and art appreciators and collectors. I run a weekly open studio for all walks of life. Some participants mildly dabble in art while others try to paint every day. It never ceases to amaze me what a unifier creating and painting together can be! There is a unique culture here where we recognize the success of others strengthens the success of all.”

— Holli Yoho

Salt Lake County Arts & Culture Art in Public Places Manager

“It is home to over 650 arts and cultural businesses.”

“Salt Lake County’s art scene is bustling and thriving with energy. It is home to over 650 arts and cultural businesses, more than anywhere else in the state.”

— Kate Ithurralde

Salt Lake County Fine Art Collection

The county owns an impressive collection of more than 600 pieces of Fine Art. The works include paintings, photographs, mixed media and sculpture, all by artists who have lived or worked in Utah. This large collection is on display at various county-run facilities. The largest portion of the collection is available for public viewing at the County Government Center located at 2001 South State Street.

Bountiful Davis Art Center

The downtown area of Salt Lake City is a dense pocket of artistry but the surrounding enclaves are also chock-full of talent and creative activity. Case in point, the Bountiful Davis Art Center, located in the quaint town center of Bountiful, which hosts exhibitions (the current Pandemic Motherhood exhibit has us intrigued), festivals, and auctions throughout the year. They also have the only art vending machine in the state.

Salt Lake Gallery Stroll

Galleries throughout the valley are invited to participate in a monthly stroll that happens on the third Friday each month (except in December, when it happens on the first Friday). The participating galleries stay open to the public after their usual hours and artists are typically on site. This is a wonderful way to meet artists and get involved in the thriving visual arts community.

Become One with the Art

Immersive Art Experiences have become popular over the past few years and there are a few opportunities to try this new trend in the Salt Lake Valley. The Leonardo in downtown SLC currently has three immersive exhibits: Van Gogh 360, From Monet to Kandinsky, and Italian Renaissance. Dreamscapes is located at The Shops at South Town in Sandy and is garnering rave reviews. The project is supported by the Utah Arts Alliance and is Utah’s first environmentally sustainable attraction.

Festivals – Living Traditions

Washington Square comes alive with music, traditions, and flavors for a weekend each May. A locals favorite, the Living Traditions Festival celebrates folk art from around the globe. You’ll undoubtedly learn something new and be amazed at the diverse artistry represented at this festival. The international food court is not-to-be-missed.

Utah Arts Festival

Downtown Salt Lake City hosts numerous outdoor festivals during the summer months and the Utah Arts Festival is the original, landmark event; chock-full of performances, booths, interactive activities, and food. According to the organization’s website,
“The Utah Arts Festival is the largest outdoor multi-disciplinary arts event in Utah with attendance hovering over 70,000 each summer. Having garnered numerous awards internationally, nationally and locally, the event remains one of the premiere events that kicks off the summer in Utah each June.”

Kimball Arts Festival

The Utah Arts Festival happens at the beginning of the summer and the end of the season is marked in Park City at the Kimball Arts Festival. Featuring artists from across the country, this festival has been running for 53 years.

Performing Arts

Theater buffs are in good company in the Beehive State. There are numerous highly-acclaimed theater companies and programming to suit all tastes. Hale Centre Theatre is a state-of-the-art facility in Sandy with a storied history that is beloved by locals. Pioneer Theater, on the University of Utah campus, is a fully professional theater specializing in major musicals, classic performances, and premiering new works. The Eccles Theater opened on Main Street in downtown Salt Lake in 2016. This impressive venue hosts touring Broadway shows, as well as talks, comedy, and musical performances.

Ballet West is a regional treasure. The nationally-renowned company attracts incredible dancers from around the world. Their annual production of The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition that goes back decades in many families. Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is known for making contemporary dance accessible to a wide audience. According to their website, they “strive to raise the standards, deepen the understanding and promote personal connections with dance.”

Find Your Niche

This is just a small snapshot of the wondrous art that enriches life here. We plan to continue to add to this list, so please share your artistic endeavors with us. Niche Homes strives to support our clients with making the most of living along the Wasatch. Reach out to us so we can help you reach your personal real estate goals.

Niche Homes is a full-service real estate agency specializing in Wasatch Front neighborhoods and enclaves. Contact us if you are interested in buying or selling a home.

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