Utah Arts Festival 2021: Creative Zone, Art & Technology, Urban Arts venues set for three full days of activities

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Although a bit scaled back this year, the Utah Arts Festival’s Art & Technology, Creative Zone and Urban Art venues will have plenty of activities for patrons and their families.

Creative Zone

Open all three days between noon and 8 p.m., the Creative Zone this year temporarily replaces the Kids’ Art Yard, out of prudence to ensure the area of activities still allows space for social distancing. This year’s theme is Songs of the World.

In recent years, upcycling has been a major driver of the DIY activities for younger artists, as Maggie Willis, the venue coordinator, collects materials that will be upcycled into imaginative projects for the festival, beginning in the winter before the festival. Normally, she has asked  neighbors and friends as well as business owners for items such paper tubes for toilet paper and containers and lids that often might be disposed in recycling bins. Happily, upcycling Is part of one project this year, Life Soundtracks, in which participants are encouraged to compose, make collages and print the stories about the favorite or more inspirational songs on discarded vinyl records and CDs. The old records were donated by someone who initially had them appraised to see if they had any monetary value so instead of being discarded, he gave them to Willis.

With music as the theme, Willis saw fresh opportunities to come up with projects that encouraging thinking outside of the box in what has been an unusual year. Premised on music’s universality as a language, young artists will contribute lyrics and global songs with printmaking and painting. Base sculptures for 3-D Notes were made by residents of the Eva Carlston Academy, a residential treatment center in Salt Lake City where Willis teaches art and therapeutic arts to young women. The sculptures include a cello sized almost exactly to scale, made with materials including cardboard, milk jugs and fabric and sheets. There is a globe for the global song activity that stands six feet in height. Limitations only inspire more innovation, in Willis’ mindset.

The Visual Art Institute will offer Humming Yo-Yo Spinners, based on the whirlgig and yoyo designs. Utah Museum of Contemporary Arts will have a musical sculpture project based on the concept of synesthesia, which occurs when other senses in the body are heightened by the stimulus directed toward one of the senses. Rock Canyon Poets will be on daily 1-4 p.m. as members assist young creators in writing short poems inspired by music. The Utah Black Artists Collective will offer acrostic poetry daily between 4 and 8 p.m., which starts with prompts based on the acronym: All Poetry through Names, Nature; and more. Choices. Require. Original. Sounds.To. Invoke. Change.

Art and Technology

Normally, the Art & Technology venue would have a much larger tent to accommodate the miniature factory of DIY projects, of which thousands of items can be assembled, decorated and ready to take home. But, ongoing pandemic-related concerns means that some of Make Salt Lake’s 300 members this year will have the opportunity to demonstrate several projects and activities that highlight the ever-expanding assortment of skills, machinery and technology the organization uses. Activities will include Lichtenberg wood-burning, 3-D printable zoo animal designs, programmable glockenspiels, mechanical flip books and planisphere to represent the constellations based on specific times and locations.

As the effects of the pandemic widened in the spring of 2020, Make Salt Lake produced prodigious amounts of personal protection equipment, including masks and shields. As noted before at The Utah Review, the organization’s portfolio ranges from DIY projects to creative craftsmanship and manufacturing high-quality components and to science and technology-based projects where rigorous data protocols are essential for function and replicable study.

MSL members, for example, have previously developed low-cost portable air quality sensors that connect to WiFi. This year, one of the members who had joined after observing what Make Salt Lake offered in previous years, Ali F. Abid will display laser etched paintings and candle holders with tealights he has designed and made. The quality of paintings is highly detailed. Carlin Carter has designed a laser-cut board based on a Game of Thrones theme, Settlers of Catan. The smaller pieces are finely rendered as miniature art objects of their own merit. Toy train hobbyist Michael Beck will showcase a sleek German HO model train set from the German company Märklin, most notably the ICE 3 Powered Rail Car Train, Class 403, which has generated a rapid, huge response since its release in early July. Beth Sallay, Art & Technology coordinator, will display movie flipbooks featuring quick scenes from popular films and television shows. Other projects are slated to be demonstrated, including Reid Rouse as based on The Line Wizard.

Urban Arts

Reiterating a theme that has grown steadily over the years in the Urban Arts venue, coordinator Pablo Pinet says the programming focuses on fostering freedom of expression, independent identities and creativity but also to demonstrate the value and importance of respect, communal bonds and support within the community of urban and street visual artists and musicians. The presence of the Urban Arts venue has contributed to coalescing the community’s acceptance and perceptions of graffiti and many forms of street art as legitimate, worthy of the same merit and acknowledgment as any other form of visual arts. It is notable that both the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and the Utah Museum of Fine Art are featuring large-scale murals in their respective exhibition and gallery spaces.

On Saturday, an all-female team of graffiti muralists will be working on the large wall at the venue. They include Ashley Kinser aka Shley (Instagram: Tiny_Shley), Chloe Monson (IG: @chlomons), Evangaqueen (IG: @evangaqueen) and Tali (IG: doggies_crust). Pinet also will bring out the cube, a familiar installation piece, which will again become a canvas for him to use, as well as other artists.

For the ninth time, Mason Fetzer will bring his 100 Artists / 1 image community mural project, a signature event. Shortly after the festival opens tomorrow, Fetzer and his crew will invite and guide visitors to start painting one of the 100 plywood tiles in the 20-foot by 20-foot mural. This year is a challenge because the festival is shorter by one day and normally the mural is completed on Saturday in a four-day event. But, Fetzer says he is aiming to finish it by the usual mid-afternoon on Saturday, even, as he mentions, if that means stepping throughout the festival grounds, sounding like a carnival barker to encourage people to paint one of the 100 tiles. Some people shy away from participating, worried that they are not skilled enough as artists. But, Fetzer, who has designed the project based on ideas from color theory that he consistently tests, prefers having those who believe they have no skills to paint a tile, as he laid out the grid and specified what colors are needed for a specific tile.

100 Artists/One Image, 2019. Mason Fetzer and 100 community artists.

One of the biggest changes in the project this year involves the cost of wood, which he says is triple that of the last time the project was produced. But, he sees this as a plus, as the wood is excellent quality so he has contemplated allowing some of the wood – which refers to negative space in the visual arts – to be unpainted and become part of the final image. He adds that the Utah Arts Festival likely will have an exhibition later this year featuring individual tiles from among the various mural images that have been carried out at the festival. Individual tiles would be displayed along with a smaller photo image of the mural for which it was created.

One entertaining aspect is to guess what the final image will be, a game that confounds many as they try to ascertain what is coming through the color scheme Fetzer has chosen for the image. The 2019 mural was a pink flamingo.

Urban Arts venue. 2019. Photo Credit: The Utah Review.

One of the perennial favorites, the FatCap Gallery returns, where local young artists will customize graffiti for caps at $25 each. Patrons tell the artists what they would like and the cap is ready within an hour or two. Some patrons bring other items, such as lunch boxes or water bottles, to be customized. There typically are 10-15 artists on site, so any style is available from lettering to cartoon images or finer line work or even personalized logos. Artists will typically make more scores of caps over the festival’s four days (three, of course, this year) and they share in some of the proceeds raised from the sales. Some finished caps also will be available for sale.

For more information about all events, see the Utah Arts Festival website. Ticket information can be found here.

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