Gallery Spotlights | Visual Arts

Salt Lake City Gets Unruly

Siddhartha Herdegan welcomes the world in one of Salt Lake City’s newest gallery spaces (photo by Heather Hopkins)

disorderly and disruptive, and not amenable to discipline or control.

If this definition brings your mind to the rebellious nature of the arts, your thinking is in line with the owners of one of the latest additions to Salt Lake City’s monthly Gallery Stroll.

While it may take a bit of communication between yourself, Google Maps, and the gallerist, finding Salt Lake’s newest hidden gem, Unruly Gallery, is worth the treasure hunt. Situated down a gated alleyway in center of downtown Salt Lake City, you will find yourself in an industrial loft gallery that aims to be a bit of a hybrid space, blending the sterile white walls we are used to encountering in contemporary gallery spaces, with touches of home, such as reading chairs, and a standing desk. Gallerist Siddhartha Herdegan speaks to the intentionality of these unique additions. “I want the space to not only highlight the art, but to allow the viewers, and potential collectors, a chance to imagine the works hanging on their own walls.”

The combination of these resting points along with the segmented room set up of the gallery, bring the viewer into a space that allows for quiet contemplation of the works. The works that are currently up remain from Unruly’s first exhibition, Unification. Local artist — and gallerist collaborator — Jimmi Toro was one of three local artists to exhibit. His large, dream-like works reference Surrealism, hint at Cubism, and bring a sense of chaotic calm into the space.

A piece by Matt Hogan dominates the entry to Unruly Gallery (photo by Heather Hopkins).

Similar in color palette, but with differing technique, Australian-born, SLC-based Matt Hogan contributed three vibrant works to the show. You can see the lingering effects of his preferred medium, pencil, in the tight photorealistic facial features highlighted in his expressive, color portraits. Which, save for those few features, melt into a playful abstraction. With explosive color being a common denominator for these artists, much of the magic of the pieces can be missed on the gallery’s chic black-and-white-only webpage and social media.

Juxtaposed interestingly with these large-scale color works is the third local artist exhibiting, Vincent Mattina. Mattina creates relatively small, but substantial, sculptural works. He uses found objects as the foundation for his creations. Incorporating lighting elements in many of them, the artist begs the viewer to imagine how technology is hindering or helping our current culture. Climate change is on the artist’s mind as he forms pieces in which science and nature collide.

Unification, the current hanging at the gallery features a mix of local and international artists (photo by Heather Hopkins).

Unification was chosen as the title of this first show as a way to represent the throughline in the seemingly heterogeneous works. It also seems to be the theme of the gallery as a whole. The works of these three local artists are intermingled with quite the global collection. Which makes sense when you learn art collector-turned gallerist, Herdegan, a Navy veteran, has lived and worked all over the world. He says that, “While I’m thrilled to give a voice to local artists, I also realize many other galleries are already fulfilling this need. My goal is to open the Salt Lake City art world to works previously unfamiliar to them.” At the center of this idea is a small work, by Dubai artist Wissam Shawkat. Such works, which are well-known in the Middle East, are likely not apart of the Utah art lover’s canon. Shawkat is a calligraphist who abstracts Arabic writing to form works that no longer give legible meaning to the symbols but leave them intact enough to inform the viewer of their origins. His inspiration comes from traditional Muslim tenants, which forbid the depiction of living beings. His abstractions relate to the geometric designs typically found in mosques and as well invite viewers to imagine something more organic in the formations.

Multicultural lessons continue throughout the gallery with works such as French artist Alban’s sculptural replication of a remnant of a WWII aircraft. Without the financial abundance military budgets today experience, WWII airmen weren’t able to change planes when there was an issue. Instead they came together to patch up their aircrafts. The exteriors that were riddled with bullets and shrapnel became mosaics depicting the history of the vessel. Alban recreates these patchwork art pieces with wood, paint, and casein. They are so realistic in their creation one stands to wonder at first glance how the heavy fuselage is mounted on the gallery wall.

Alban, “H-211,” 2016, casein on wood, 40 × 60 × 3 in

This culturally diverse assemblage is what citizens of Salt Lake City can expect from Unruly Gallery. Their first show began on April’s gallery stroll and ended with May’s. The works will remain unchanged until the June gallery stroll, Friday, June 17th. Their June show, Ulterior, will feature works from local artist Richard Taylor, and San Francisco artist Hiroshi Sato. The name Ulterior was chosen, “because it explores what is not explicitly revealed or immediately apparent. The deeper meaning of the works is only brought out and understood upon subsequent contemplation.” If their first show is any indication of what’s to come, Salt Lake is lucky to have become a little more unruly.


Unruly Gallery, 380 W 200 S Unit 102, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101. (801) 784-8664.


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  1. I loved this article. Very informative. I can’t wait to hear more about the art world of SLC

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