Utah Arts Festival begins, and the kids are all right
The stereotype about Utah entertainment that there's nothing fun to do for people too young to get into bars and too old for the kids' menu is being shattered at the Utah Arts Festival.
Teens and young adults are making their mark on Library Square this weekend, sometimes literally.
Thursday's music offerings started with a festival tradition: Groups of young musicians rocking on the Park Stage.
The kids from MusicGarage, a Salt Lake City nonprofit music organization, kicked off the entertainment with a set of rock classics.
"We're gonna play another Led Zeppelin song, because we love 'em so much," said the group's lead singer, 16-year-old Gigi Snelling of Salt Lake City. She led the young musicians through three Led Zeppelin tunes, hitting the soaring Robert Plant solos with power. She also sang a cover of Pink Floyd's "Money" for good measure.
"The kids pick their own music I don't tell them what to play," said MusicGarage's director, Steve Auerbach. "They're musicians, so they pick the music that's challenging musically. Maybe they're raiding their parents' record collections?"
MusicGarage was followed by a teen band from Soul Research Foundation, whose set ranged from Aretha to Adele. They were followed by Sandy's School of Rock and the Wasatch Music Academy.
Just south of the Park Stage, in the Urban Arts area, artists added color and shapes to an interactive graffiti wall.
In past years, the festival provided paint for graffiti artists, but now "people kind of bring their own paint," said Pablo Pinet, an artist working on the wall.
Graffiti is a versatile art, said Provo artist Albert Anzar. "There's so much you could do with it, it's not just lettering," Anzar said, as he painted a stylized version of his trademark word, "Bust," on the wall.
Anzar developed his style as a teen, painting at train yards and other spaces. "When I turned 18, I started looking for legal spaces," he said.
But graffiti is gaining mainstream acceptance, Anzar said. He has received two recent commissions for his work: One was for an attorney's office, the other is for the city of Provo.
The artwork of other teens is being shown in one of the Utah Arts Festival's most prestigious sites.
The traveling All-State Utah High School Art Exhibition is on display in the Salt Lake City Main Library's fourth-floor gallery, featuring 37 works from students around the state.
For these talented teens, the festival can be a springboard for bigger things.
"This is where it starts," said Michele Snelling, mother of Gigi, the Led Zeppelin fan. "These kids will become the bands that are headlining."
The Utah Arts Festival continues through the weekend.
Where • Library Square, 210 E. 400 South.
When • Friday through Sunday, noon to 11 p.m. each day.
Tickets • $12 per day; $6 for people 65 and older; free for kids 12 and under.