Beneath the Salt: Enter through the Coffee Shop

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Curators Jadey Crofts and Josh Johnston will celebrate the second annual Beneath the Salt on Aug. 10. Photo: A. Pastucha

Art is the business of turning dreams into reality, which can be a pain in the ass in a world where reality tends to scoff at dreams. In their efforts to pursue a path in creativity, artists are often beset with nothing but rejection and discouragement. Though overcoming these obstacles is a big part of creating meaningful art, it still sucks to feel like nobody’s listening. For the struggling artists who know all too well what that’s like, there is something bright on the horizon. This summer, artists can look forward to Beneath the Salt. Organized by local artists Jadey Crofts and Josh Johnston, Beneath the Salt is an event designed to promote local art and provide a bit of group therapy for artsy Utahns who need a quick boost to their creativity and enthusiasm. The event consists of an intimate gathering of around ten local artists who will be displaying their work on both levels of Kokopelli’s Koffee. In addition to the artwork, attendees will be treated to live music, DJs and even a hula hooper or two. “It’s really more of an art party,” says Crofts. “One of our exhibitors this year will actually be painting on patrons’ bodies!”

Initially, Crofts got the idea for an epic art event from Exit Through the Gift Shop, an Oscar-nominated documentary from the street art guru, Banksy. In short, a French immigrant named Thierry Guetta sought to document street artists such as Shepard Fairey and Banksy himself—but didn’t do a great job. While Banksy was salvaging his footage, Guetta adopted the name Mr. Brainwash and threw together an art show in L.A. that attracted a huge audience. “It wasn’t necessarily [Guetta] that inspired me, but the idea that it’s not too difficult to throw an event that could be used to help people get their art out there,” says Crofts.

Both Crofts and Johnston come from artistic backgrounds. “I’ve been drawing since I was about three,” Johnston says. “Everyone told me that I was an artist, so that’s what I considered myself.” Art has played an important role in Crofts’ life as well. When her father passed away a year ago, she used her artistic abilities as a way to deal with her loss. “I locked myself in my room for weeks and just painted,” Crofts says. She had mentioned the idea for Beneath the Salt to her father, who lent his support. “When he died,” says Crofts, “it lit this fire in me to make the event happen.” In addition to Johnston, Crofts contacted longtime friends Nicole and Russ Eastland. Together, they created the first Beneath the Salt event, which took place August of last year. “Nicole helped pull together some of our star artists, like Beau Buchanan, Cameron Williams and Jazzlyn Huerta. She also aided in the communication flow between artists. Russ was one of our musical acts and made our very first flier,” Crofts says.

In addition to having a memorable experience partying with local artists, attendees will have the opportunity to donate to the Utah Cancer Society. “We’re suggesting that patrons donate at least $5 to the Cancer Society, and we’ve also been encouraging our artists to donate a portion of their proceeds as well,” Crofts says. Johnston and Crofts wanted this event to give something back to the community, and the Utah Cancer Society seemed like the right place to direct that charity. “Cancer is still around. There are a lot of people struggling with it. So many different causes fall along the wayside, and that’s one of them. When you get such a broad group of people together, a lot of them are going to know someone who has been affected by cancer, so it seemed appropriate,” says Johnston.

For any local artists who want to get their work noticed, Beneath the Salt is a great place to get started. Even though putting your art out in the public is intimidating, if you’re passionate about your work, you’ll find a place at Beneath the Salt. “Featuring a person’s art provides some confidence to keep going,” Johnston says. When it comes down to deciding whom they would like to feature at their event, an artist’s personality, passion and attitude can go a long way. “There are lots of people who can paint really well, but it’s passion that keeps you going, and we think that’s important. Personality does enter the equation on that level. Artists will also have to be mingling with the crowd and pushing their work,” says Johnston.

Beneath the Salt promises to be more than just a typical art show. “For me, art is about self-expression, not wine and cheese. Not that there’s anything wrong with wine and cheese, but this event is designed to encourage people to create art. We don’t really want to find artists who have already made a name for themselves in the community. We want to find the people who were doing this independently and encourage them to meet up and keep each other inspired,” says Crofts.

Beneath the Salt will be taking place on Friday, Aug. 10 at Kokopelli’s Koffee on 3955 S. Highland Drive. More info is available on Facebook by searching “Beneath the Salt.” If you’re interested in showing art of your own at the event, Crofts can be contacted at penguininagasmask@yahoo.com, and you can reach Johnston at jlj.com@gmail.com.

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