Over two blocks and four days, the Utah Arts Festival packs a world of experiences.
One can watch dancers climb the walls, interact with street performers, look at and buy art objects, see short films, help create community artworks, eat a variety of food, listen to musical acts from all over, and let the kids make their own crafts.
The best of the rest
Here are a few other happenings at the Utah Arts Festival:
Music headliners » The range of acts includes Utah homeboys Royal Bliss, New Orleans band The Iguanas, world music from African Showboyz, Mexican-influenced band Y La Bamba, “junkyard” musician Shovelman, The Sensations Soul Band, blues rocker Kenny Neal, bluegrass band The Steeldrivers, “The Voice” contestant Ryan Innes, collaborative experiment Sound Mass and singer-songwriter Jason Isbell.
Local music » A wealth of Utah bands will be performing, including King Niko, Holy Water Buffalo, Big Blue Ox and Orquesta Latino.
Street theater » BBoy Federation will be performing street dance moves around the grounds, and the Salt Lake City drum group Kenshin Taiko will play Japanese-style percussion at The Round (by the Library).
Fine Art Exhibition » The All-State Utah High School Art Exhibition will bring its touring show, featuring works from 16 up-and-coming artists, to the prime space of the fourth-floor gallery of the City Library.
Art Yard » Children can get hands-on with arts and crafts projects, and the instrument petting zoo (sponsored by Summerhays Music Center) lets kids try out band and orchestra instruments. There’s also a stage for kid performers to show their talents.
Film » The Fear No Film Festival includes some 40 short films from filmmakers both homegrown and far-flung. The shorts programs at the City Library auditorium will have some adult content, but there’s a kids’ program playing at the Art Yard.
Literary arts » Comic-book authors Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan (“Boilerplate”) return to teach interactive workshops. Also, the Big Mouth Stage will feature performance poets and a Team Slam performance. And the “Mailbox Diaries” display will allow festivalgoers to add their own entries on the subjects of grief and love.
The Leonardo » Salt Lake City’s art-and-tech museum is open to festivalgoers, with exhibits on the second-floor galleries and workshops in the Art Lab. (Admission to the new exhibit, “101 Inventions That Changed the World,” is $5 in addition to the festival admission.)
Urban Arts » Take part in a community art project by painting a piece of a 20-foot puzzle mural, or help local graffiti artists on the “interactive graffiti wall.” Spy Hop will be running its Found Sound Studio, mixing noises from around the grounds into music, and creating “an undercover animation project.”
Utah Arts Festival
Where » Library Square, 210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City.
When » Thursday through Saturday, June 20-23.
Hours » Noon to 11 p.m. each day.
Admission » $12 a day for adults; free for kids 12 and younger; $6 for seniors 65 and older; $35 for a four-day pass.
Discounts » $10 opening-day special Thursday only; $6 lunchtime special, Thursday and Friday, noon to 3 p.m.; and a “y’all come back” pass, good for 2-for-1 admission on a return visit, available upon exit.
Here’s a sample of what’s happening at this year’s Utah Arts Festival (running June 20-23), by way of 4 artists:
Amelia Rudolph loves the Salt Lake City Library building, but not just because it has lots of books and a comfortable reading areas.
The part of the library she’s most familiar with, as dancer and artistic director of the vertical dance troupe Bandaloop, is the curved glass wall that faces out onto Library Square — and will become the stage for the group’s gravity-defying choreography during performances at the Utah Arts Festival.
"There’s something about the fact that it’s glass, so it’s reflective," Rudolph said in a recent phone interview. "It allows us [seemingly] to double the number of dancers that we have."
And, at five stories, the library is not too big and not too small. "We’re not so high above the audience that they can’t see the detail that we’re doing," she said.
This marks the second time Bandaloop has performed at the Utah Arts Festival, and Rudolph recalled that the audience was warm and generous. (She said someone sent a note to one of her dancers, asking her jokingly "to be his fifth wife.") The troupe has practiced a group piece designed specifically for the Salt Lake City audience.
Rudolph founded the troupe in 1991, and the group has traveled the world performing from harnesses on the sides of buildings. Bandaloop received national TV exposure earlier this week when the dancers figured prominently in a date on ABC’s reality series "The Bachelorette." At 50 and with a 2-year-old, Rudolph doesn’t dance as much as she used to, but she still directs the troupe.
Dancing sideways, she said, "looks really easy, but it’s a lot of work. It’s literally harder for dancers to remember the choreography." She said that being tipped sideways, with the fluid in one’s inner ear sloshing around, can affect the dancers’ balance and with it their muscle memory.
Bandaloop will perform at 6 and 8 each night of the festival, capturing the pre-dusk light that filmmakers call "magic hour."
The troupe uses some artificial light "to illuminate the dancers," Rudolph said, adding that "I really enjoy natural light, especially toward the end of the day. … You can’t hide anything — not that you can hide anything anyway, doing what we do."
The first time that Salt Lake City photographer and graphic designer Stephanie Swift applied to display her work at the Utah Arts Festival, it wasn’t for the usual reasons of artistic expression and ambition.
"My sister hounded me to apply to the festival, and I did it to get her off my back," Swift said in a recent phone interview.
Now Swift’s digitally enhanced photo prints of Utah neon landmarks, bearing her brand Pretty Little Pixel, are a regular feature at the festival. This year, she is an invited artist at the festival’s Artist Marketplace, which boasts 162 artists selling their wares — 45 of them from Utah, and 64 displaying at the festival for the first time.
Swift, who works by day as a graphic designer, was hired several years ago to develop a trade-show booth that looked like a comic book. She experimented with adding bright colors to photographs, and "it was something I really liked, so I just kept doing it," she said.
Her specialty is taking photos of famous Salt Lake City landmarks, particularly old neon signs, and digitally adding color. Some of her most popular prints show the Cotton Bottom Inn, the Tower Theatre and the now-gone Bill and Nada’s Cafe.
Recently, Swift started putting her designs on household items. She experimented by decorating an old chair. Then she tried a fabric transfer and discovered she could make pillows.Next Page >
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