Touted as artists’ studios (among other possibilities), the building leased by Utah Arts Alliance butts up against the TRAX station at 193 W. 2100 South in what was formerly The Rock – a church whose sign is still high in the sky, confusing the intrepid driver seeking something other than religion at the newly opened Art Factory in South Salt Lake.
Driving was sporadic the day of the March open house because I could NOT find this place for the life of me and so parked to look around. After traipsing among the massage parlors and seemingly sketchy bars, I thought it wise to get back in the car and drive some more instead. When I found the unusual church “For Lease” with lots of vehicles parked outside, I went in thinking “The Rock” was a club. And there was, indeed, a bar just inside the door with a long-haired dude behind it. I heard a voice from the hallway: “Is that Ann?” and turned to see a very short redhead with a tall guy wearing a beret accompanying her. Artist Marcee Blackerby is petite because she uses a wheelchair; husband Ric, an artist too, is rarely seen without his trademark headgear.
They had just finished the tour I was at the Art Factory to go on myself, so I asked what the place was like. I learned that the studios are expensive: “The only reasonable one, and there’s only one – for $300 – is the size of your bathroom with fluorescent lighting and no running water – there’s no water in any of the studios”; “There are stairs on the second floor that they say they will tear out and ramp but no other possibility of access for me”; “This place is only here for a year and isn’t worth moving into for that length of time.”
On my own tour I learned all that is truth: the second-floor studios – where rents range from $800 up to $1,200 a month – currently are taken primarily by nonprofits except one, leased by Spicer/ Hogin LLC, a two-person video company. In the larger spaces, you’ve got Jenkstars, a collective of upcycle engineers and artists who develop creative solutions for real-world problems – and practice yoga; Municipal Ballet Co. that uses a room for a practice studio; Over the Board [indoor] Skate Park (just what it sounds like); and Kipper Bros. Puppet Co. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams has an office here until the end of April. More spaces are available. The landlord retained the third floor for lease in its entirety.
A surprise on the ground floor (besides the cold PBR I was offered at the end of the tour in the “coffee shop”) was an impressively large area that rents for $50 an hour weekdays and $50-$100 an hour weekends with a stage, green room, sound studio, balcony, lighting and sound booth, and an enormous audience or dance floor.
You can enjoy it for yourself on May 20 from 6 p.m. until midnight during the 2nd Annual Night on Commonwealth with music/entertainment by Sugar Bubble. There will be a public art element; local beer/Spirits Lounge; area vendors; food trucks; gallery stroll; more.
The Art Factory is located at 193 W. 2100 S. SSLC. To learn more visit the Utah Arts Alliance website.
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.