Lost Acorn Gallery: For Anyone With Something to Share
Unbeknownst to most Utahns, the Avenues neighborhood was recently host to one of the most prolific squirrel hotels in the state. Rodents across the region favored it as a top-tier nut storage facility with enough beds to sleep the whole family. That is, until Mitchell Harned and Parker Thompson took over the establishment in 2021. Since then, it’s been transformed into something a bit more human-centric: an art gallery.
“When we moved in … we remodeled everything,” Harned says. “In every crevice everywhere there was squirrel debris, whether that be insulation or nuts or who the heck knows. So, we make the joke that there’s always a lost acorn somewhere.”
While its former patrons may be disappointed at the change in management, Lost Acorn Gallery has a lot to offer the bipedal community. The two longtime friends originally purchased the space as a glass-blowing studio for Harned’s own work, a craft he’s been mastering since he visited a glass factory as a teenager. “My lizard brain said, ‘This is what we’re doing for the rest of our life,’” Harned says.
“I love that it’s a lot of little people who don’t have a big name here.”
For the gallery’s first year, glass was the main attraction of their business—from creating and selling glass art to offering classes for anyone curious to learn about the medium. At the same time, however, some of their more controversial products posed difficult to sell without the right licenses. “I just make the pipes,” Harned points out. “What you choose to do with them afterward is none of my business.” Soon enough, a new idea for the space emerged spontaneously. “One day, a friend knocked on the door and asked if we did events. We said, ‘sure,’” Harned says.
That event, a movie premiere from local snow boarding company Chimera Backcountry Snowboards, was the start of what Lost Acorn has become: a community gallery for anyone with something artistic and creative to share. For many artists, whether established or just starting out, finding a space to showcase one’s work can be a near-impossible task. Affording a space is a whole other obstacle that Harned and Thompson hope to break down.
“This was a place where people that had no experience, no gallery training, no nothing could just come in and show off,” Harned says. “I just wanted it to be a place where people felt like they were welcome to be weird and quirky artists, because that’s what Salt Lake is full of.”
“This was a place where people that had no experience, no gallery training, no nothing could just come in and show off.”
While neither had previous experience running a public gallery, they’ve found it to be a rewarding challenge and an opportunity to meet many new local artisans. “I love that it’s a lot of little people who don’t have a big name here,” Harned says. “Love, love, love putting people on that have never gotten to show off in a place. The smile, the goofiness, the showing off to your parents like that.”
Whether it’s digital art, graffiti, painting, dancing or anything else you could dream of, Lost Acorn has a space for it. Lost Acorn Gallery offers free shows on Tuesdays, where artists have the chance to walk in with their art and share it that night, as well as the possibility to book the space on Friday evenings for a private exhibit. All you have to do is knock on their door or send a message. “If it fits, and we can do it, we’ll absolutely do it,” Harned says.
The glass-blowing studio is still going strong at Lost Acorn Gallery, along with Harned’s goal to share his craft with the community. If you’ve ever been curious about the art of making stained glass, fused pendants or marbles, classes are available to book through their website for any skill level.
“They’re becoming fewer and farther between, these weird little spots,” Harned says, but Lost Acorn is truly a weird little spot worth preserving. Keep up with Lost Acorn at their website listed below or on their Instagram @lostacorngallery.
Read more on local galleries and exhibits in Salt Lake City:
I Exist Because They Survived: Artists Unpack Assimilation at Material Gallery
Encircle Gallery: Art For The Community, By The Community