“Full Moon Friday.” “Night on Commonwealth.” It all sounds kind of creepy and “Where’s Freddy?” until you know what’s really going down.
It’s South Salt Lake’s first time participating in Salt Lake Gallery Stroll and they’re doing it up right. Rock ‘n’ Roll. Food trucks. Beer Garden. So get down to Commonwealth Avenue from 6-10 p.m. on May 20 and imbibe (in some good art, of course). Photographer Lars Call at Cre8 Studio; painter Jimmi Toro at Shades of Pale; artist Kat Martin—known for her altered landscapes—at The Rock Church (where all the good food and beer is happening, along with jam music by Mokie); mixed media at The Commonwealth Building.
The big event is giant photographs displayed on the outside of buildings scattered throughout the neighborhood (discovering them is kind of the fun of it, says Lesly Allen, arts council coordinator). In her pic, Leia Bell is holding a frame (signifying Signed & Numbered, her shop in the ‘hood’); Chris Brunstetter of GoldCoast Skateboards is holding one of those – we’d guess a cruiser, but what do we know?
South Salt Lake has a big master plan creating an artistic and creative district in the Commonwealth Area that will allow artists to be able to afford to stay as the downtown develops, says Allen. ZAP funds allow for a part-time dedicated arts council coordinator to work on the project. “I am the dedicated staff,” says Allen with a laugh. She has a master’s in arts administration from Westminster, is on the board of the Utah Arts Alliance and is the artist marketplace coordinator for the Urban Arts Festival, which just won a prestigious Our Town Grant from the NEA, funds allowing them, among other things, to expand to a second day at their new Gallivan Center location.
The Commonwealth Arts District runs from West Temple to Utopia Avenue and Commonwealth to 2100 South and the city has big plans for it. “We envision South Salt Lake having the potential to be unlike anything else in Utah,” Allen says, mentioning the underutilized space, the warehouses, and more affordable rents for artists.
The City Master Plan reads, in part: “The Commonwealth Arts District is a part of the downtown identity and economic success. This neighborhood fosters many small, local and independent businesses that produce art and cultural goods. This master plan proposes creating and protecting an arts district for these creative uses and experiences. . . .”
There is Poor Yorick and Spectrum Studios, of course, and a lot of talk about other studios, says Allen, but nothing like that as yet. But, she points out, there are breweries, ski companies, animators, tile makers, furniture makers, two distilleries, Signed and Numbered, SugarPost Metal (they take repurposed and reclaimed metal and make art sculptures), Counterpoint Studios run by the Utah Arts Alliance — a state of the art recording studio with its own label, Midnight Records. She mentions Pat’s BBQ and Vertical Diner as other places in the area that put South Salt Lake on the map.
A graduate of the University of Utah, Ann Poore is a freelance writer and editor who spent most of her career at The Salt Lake Tribune. She was the 2018 recipient of the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Artist Award in the Literary Arts.