Trent Call, lead artist for the Fourth Annual Urban Gallery. Photo: Christopher Reeves
I didn’t go to the Urban Gallery last year, so when I got asked to cover the event this year, all my regrets of good times not had came bubbling to the surface. You see, a few of my friends did go, and they told me all about how much fun it was, how great the art was and how cheap the beer was. What they didn’t tell me about was Neighborhood House.
If you’ve never heard of Neighborhood House, you’d probably be surprised to hear they’ve been around for 117 years. Seriously, they started up back in 1894. Having failed to realize the length of their existence, you might also have no clue what Neighborhood House does. Well, put down that Google button and allow me to explain. Neighborhood House offers day care and supportive services for both children and adults at three locations around the Salt Lake valley, and they charge for their services on a sliding scale, which is sexy for those of us on a budget.
Why all this information on Neighborhood House, you ask? That’s where the Urban Gallery takes place, silly pants. Within the Urban Gallery, local artists paint the garage doors at Neighborhood House, allowing spectators to watch the transformation take place. The event serves as part fundraiser, part community carnival. Last year, there were nine teams of artists competing for $2,000 in prize money. This year worked a little different in that teams were required to submit a proposal to Neighborhood House and then only one team was chosen to paint all the garage doors themselves. The team with the chosen proposal gets their supplies and food paid for during the event, but there’s no prize money. Neighborhood House wanted this year to be more about collaboration than competition. Back when it first began, the artists had almost a month to paint all the garage doors. These days, the Urban Gallery artists have a total of only 14 hours to get their shit together. This year’s team of artists was none other than Trent Call and Swinj Art Production.
Swinj Art Production consists of local artists Benjamin Wiemeyer, Evan Jed Memmott, Gailon Justus, Mike Murdock, Richard Landvatter, Skyler Chubak, Sri Whipple and lead artist Trent Call. These guys have been around and creating art for a while now. Call was even involved in the very first Urban Gallery. He put this team of artists together himself, and while they’re mainly his friends, he does try and switch things up. “I tried to get a couple people who weren’t graffiti kids,” he says. So what does Call like best about his team? “They’re all very unique in their own style. Everyone has their strong points, everyone will kinda have their own little character thing they do and then we’ll collaborate on everything else. Everyone’s bringing their own thing to the table.”
Collaborate perfectly describes what Swinj Art Production did this year. Right from the beginning they put together a small, single layout design of their artistic vision that they could all plan from, then they set to work on the garage doors. The Salt Lake Art Center and the 337 Project provided an assortment of “family-fun” activities for the community. From face painting to jewelry making to the Drum Bus, kids young and old had something to entertain themselves with. There was even a sushi truck from Cruzin’ Sushi and a beer garden provided by Uinta Brewing. At $4 a beer, who could resist getting a little buzz, getting their face painted and enjoying some amazing art take place?
If you missed out on the Urban Gallery this year, fear not, it seems to be a yearly trend. Keep your eyes and ears open next year and you too could be sipping a beer while watching local artists spray paint awesomeness without the usual anxiety of police interruption. If you need something to do before next year, give Neighborhood House a call and volunteer some of your hard earned time and/or money. It’s a good cause if ever there was one.
Check out more photos from the event here.