Nestled into downtown Salt Lake City’s vibrant nightlife hotspot, FICE Gallery (160 E. 200 South) has been humming along to the beat of SLC for 10 years now. Much like its neighbors Este Pizzeria Co, Bar X and Diabolical Records, FICE has become a Downtown staple that has helped cultivate the scene into what it is today. The area is bustling, active in arts and music, and supportive to the locals who, in turn, add more culture and texture to our downtown area. FICE Gallery has been part of this narrative since it has opened, providing a space for artists to debut and display their work, as well as opportunities to collaborate with FICE itself. Every month, FICE hosts an art show that changes the space into one that the featured artist envisions. This month, FICE hosts local artist February Filth (Madi Mekkelson), a mixed-media artist who focuses on the manipulation of photographs to convey her visions, which are inspired by fashion and street art.
Owner Corey Bullough finds that these monthly shows are a way to enhance the aesthetic range of FICE. He says, “In my mind, they are the aesthetic of the store.” In the beginning, the art shows were not locally based, but “it slowly evolved to more and more local artists, and it became better and better.” From that point, the variety of artists selected has been an attempt to cover all the sides of the multidimensional landscape that is the SLC art scene. “The one thing that is cool about it is that it can go from oil paintings to sculptures,” Bullough says about the scope of art shows that have been hosted at the store. So far, FICE has hosted well-known local artists like Sri Whipple and Trent Call.
On Feb. 22, February Filth hosted her first solo–art show opening at FICE. Mekkelson has had pop-ups in the past at Goldblood, Converge at Utah Arts Alliance and the Urban Arts Fest, however, this show is the first in which Mekkelson has had full freedom to manifest all of her ideas. February Filth’s opening show consisted of an art installation that was a projection of Mekkelson’s recent stop-motion videos, something she hasn’t been able to previously show. She pieced together videos with images that she took of the city, and glitter paint drips down throughout the video. Available at the show—and throughout the month of March—are large posters of stills from these videos, displayed to show how the movement developed through the video.
Other items available are prints, stickers, her first zine and a limited run of shirts that are a collaboration between Mekkelson and FICE. The shirt includes a design with one of Mekkelson’s popular images, a sculpture of a person’s head along with the word “FICE” at the bottom of the design. The design of the shirt features Mekkelson’s trademark glittery, bleeding eyes on the sculpture, a motif that’s present in most of her artwork.
“Before I lived Downtown, this was the first store [where] I could find cool streetwear … I’ve always wanted to do a show here [at FICE,] but I didn’t know how to go about it,” Mekkelson says. She knew that she wanted to host her show in February to keep on brand with her art moniker. She says, “I’m very inspired by street art and stuff like that, so I felt FICE has a streetwear, hip-hop vibe. I’ve always been inspired by hip-hop and hip-hop culture, and I feel it goes hand in hand with streetwear.” Although, she didn’t know how to take the steps toward making the show a reality. She says, “I reached out to Corey and he said, ‘Yeah let’s do it!’ and here we are.”
Mekkelson works at the local business Phötage, a start-up that creates re-stickable stickers of all sizes. With this connection, Mekkelson is able to use Phötage as a way to print her artwork, and will have this product available at FICE through the month of March.
Another tradition that FICE has maintained since they have opened is their active service to the street population. Twice a year, which FICE conducts sneaker drives where participants can bring lightly used shoes, which FICE collects and donates—along with their own contribution—to homeless shelters like the VOA. Last Christmas, FICE donated $4,000 worth of shoes. Other recipients of FICE’s donated shoes are local youth basketball teams, specifically Junior Jazz, and cycling groups like Aevolo. “You are always welcome to drop off shoes that have a life in them—we are always collecting them,” Bullough says.
Meeting Bullough and hearing about FICE’s past and present solidifies the role they play in our community. Being familiar with how Mekkelson’s artwork derives from street art and hip-hop culture and FICE’s penchant for streetwear, the two make for a good pair and inherently celebrate each other through the collaboration. While listening to Mekkelson speak about what drives and inspires her, I could see through Bullough’s demeanor that he agrees. FICE is open 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Monday–Saturday and 12 p.m.–6 p.m. on Sundays. Stay updated with upcoming events and shows at ficegallery.com.