Gallery Stroll: Art Makes a City

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This year’s Urban Arts Festival will take place at The Gateway on July 19.

What brings a city to life, and what gives it its heart? Historians and anthropologists credit community gathering spaces like libraries, schoolhouses and city halls. Typically, when I want to know about a city, I ask a city dweller. When you speak to a resident about the heart of the city, the conversation usually turns to merchants, restaurants, artists, theaters and performers—the makers and doers who make up the city.

Fortunately for Salt Lake City residents, we have plenty of opportunities to see these scene and city makers in action, whether we attend the monthly Gallery Stroll, various art festivals or just wander the streets and alleyways looking for some good art. When it comes to a creative community, Utah represents! We house amazing talent here and amazing community organizers who make being an art patron so easy. One festival gathers up all the best local, urban-influenced artisans, performers and scene makers, and takes over The Gateway shopping district. Known as the Urban Arts Festival, this festival features only Utah locals. The festival takes place on July 19 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and now, in its fourth year, includes over 100 artist booths, three stages, live mural paintings, a skate deck art show, a short film festival, and skateboarding park contests and demos. The festival is put on by the Utah Arts Alliance.

Arts Alliance founder and Executive Director Derek Dyer is known for working collaboration magic. Dyer has housed over 100 artists in his repurposed warehouse spaces over the years. Currently, the Utah Arts Alliance, a nonprofit organization, runs three venues: The SLC Arts Hub, which houses studio, workshop and practice spaces; Midnight Records, which is run out of their Counterpoint Studios locations; and the Urban Arts Gallery at The Gateway, which serves as the flagship of the Urban Arts Festival.

The mission of the Utah Arts Alliance is to “foster the arts in all forms and to create an aware, empowered, and connected community.” Connectivity is a theme that pops up a lot with the Utah Arts Alliance. From connecting arts to connecting the viewer, the Arts Alliance is quite invested in the whole artistic process. The skate deck art exhibit, for example, starts as an open call for submissions. Then, fellow artists jury the art, and festival attendees make the final decision on the day of the festival. Prizes are given out for the crowd’s top three favorites. The format for the skate show allows for emerging artists to engage on the same level as the pros. Who knows? It could be your skate deck on display for 15,000 people to ogle come July 19. The submission deadline for the Skate Deck Art Show is July 13. Tempted? Want more details? Contact, and she’ll set you straight.

A city comes to life in the activities of its residents, so if you want to know more about your city, attend the Urban Arts Festival. For more info, visit