Gallery Stroll: Hot City, Sizzling Art

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Photo courtesy of Utah Arts Alliance

I am far from a scientist—I never have and probably never will be able to recite the periodic table. Instead, I tend to focus my inquisitiveness on human nature and the study of sociology. I find it particularly interesting how people react to summer. All day, the sun beats down, transferring its energy in the soil for the plants and grass to grow, but in the city of asphalt and concrete, where does all that heat and energy go? I propose that energy pulses through our streets and bubbles up in urban art forms across the city. No other time of year does art sizzle the way it does during these hot summer nights. To prove my theory of heat transfer, let’s look at the art offerings for July.

Gallery Stroll hits it hard on the third Friday of the month. From 6 to 9 p.m., dozens of Salt Lake’s art galleries host public artist receptions for their incoming shows. The full list of participating galleries can be found at gallerystroll.org. But what do you do after 9 p.m.? With longer days, it seems a shame to end the party so early, so let’s head to an after-party.

Sketch Cabaret is THE after party for Gallery Stroll. Taking over the Metro Bar, Sketch Cabaret is a collective of artists and creative types that come together for a night of art, music, performances and interactions. To support a cohesive event, a theme is selected for each month. No doubt due to the energy conversion I mentioned earlier, the July 17 theme is street art. Imagine an evening of graffiti and mural artists working on a giant canvas, skaters taking advantage of the indoor skate ramp, music thumping and models posing for sketches, all while sporting the wildest urban clothing. Everyone is invited to attend and encouraged to participate, whether you’re professional artists who just want to branch out and explore new art mediums or novice artists wanting to make connections and be around creative types. Put the inspiration that Gallery Stroll charges you up with to good use and create some art yourself.

Utah is home to many notorious and honored urban arts—aka street artists. The Urban Arts Festival was created five years ago in hopes of bringing this particular group of artists out of the shadows and into the limelight. The annual festival takes place the Saturday after Gallery Stroll on July 18 in the Gateway Shopping District of Salt Lake City. The Urban Arts Festival showcases nearly 200 artists, plus dancers, musicians and skateboarders on three stages. This year, the stages will be broken up into a “Hip-Hop Stage,” “Festival Stage” and “Gallery Stage.” Hands-on kids art activities will be held in partnership with the Discovery Gateway. Skaters and skate enthusiasts will enjoy a quarter-pipe skate competition along with open skate sessions and a skatedeck design competition. If the heat gets to you, duck into the Voice Of The City Film Festival featuring Shepherd Fairey’s new film, Art As A Weapon. The list of events and activities is too robust to mention it all, so please visit urbanartsfest.org. Looking to support the local art scene? Consider volunteering; Urban Arts Festival and Craft Lake City always need volunteers, and it’s a great way to support the scene. Enjoy the summer of art!