Arts festivals are like a Gallery Stroll on steroids! There is a lot of great art condensed in one area for me to peruse, drool over and save my pennies up for. Utah is home to many outstanding arts festivals—from powerhouses like the Utah and Park City Arts Festivals to hidden gems like the Helper Arts Festival. While every festival has its own look and feel, many of the same artists join a festival circuit and spend the summer traveling from one festival to another. I mean no disrespect, but after a few years and a few festivals, I start to feel a little “been there, seen that.” Enter the Urban Arts Festival, a festival as ever-changing and dynamic as the city it represents.
Festival Founder and Executive Director of the Utah Arts Alliance, Derek Dyer has been a driving force in coordinating, facilitating and collaborating with urban artists for the last 10 years. He’s developed quite a reputation for revamping and revitalizing whatever space he and his artist allies enter. For example, three years ago, it was Pierpont Avenue that needed a jolt of activity. The Utah Urban Arts Festival was a great way to get the community out to visit the artists and shops, reminding them about this quaint avenue full of creativity.
Now in its third year, the festival moves to the Gateway July 20 from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. “Once we opened the Urban Arts Gallery at the Gateway in January, we started talking about the idea of moving the Urban Arts Festival to the Gateway as well. We decided that the location had a lot of positive attributes and built-in infrastructure that would help us create a better experience for everyone involved. Plus, with easy access from Trax and plenty of parking, we would easily be able to increase attendance this year. The decision to make it free should also dramatically increase attendance and accessibility,” says Dyer.
One of my favorite summer/fall/winter/spring beverages, beer, is a must when I’m spending the day shopping and looking at art. Rumor has it that the festival is moving on up and will host a beer garden. Dyer confirms, saying, “Yes, this year, we will host the beer and wine concessions in the beautiful Grand Hall with an outdoor area that overlooks the main stage and the paint wall. The paint wall is another cool addition. We will be providing a wall where we will have live painting demonstrations from professional street artists, as well as a community wall where anyone can paint.”
The title “Urban Arts” can encompass many unexpected things, and this year, Dyer says, “We’ve partnered with We Are One Skate Park and SLUG Magazine’s Summer of Death [amateur skateboard contest series] to provide a skate park and the skate competition at the festival this year, and for the skate enthusiasts, we will be featuring a skate deck art exhibit and competition in the Urban Arts Gallery.”
I really enjoy the combination of visual and performance art represented in an arts festival setting. Dyer says the stage will feature a Breakdance Battle from the Bboy Federation, and there will be over 100 local artist booths.
You know where I’ll be on July 20––checking out the Urban Arts Festival from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Remember, admission is free, so get out and stroll through your urban art community––it’s what makes city life so colorful! For more info, visit urbanartsfest.org.