Looking Back at the Utah Arts Festival

The Utah Arts Festival takes over Library Square and the City & County Building grounds in downtown Salt Lake City.
The Utah Arts Festival takes over Library Square and the City & County Building grounds in downtown Salt Lake City.

What is art?  Art is creativity, imagination, emotion.  Most of all, art is expression.  It comes in many forms: painting and sculpture, photography and film, poetry and literature, and dance and music.  The Utah Arts Festival took over Library Square in downtown Salt Lake City last weekend, covering art in all its forms for four days.

The Utah Arts Festival takes over Library Square and the City & County Building grounds in downtown Salt Lake City.
The Utah Arts Festival takes over Library Square and the City & County Building grounds in downtown Salt Lake City.

The Utah Arts Festival is partially an artist marketplace, providing space for 164 artists from around the country to showcase and sell their work, from award-winning photographers to jewelry-makers, painters, sculptures and more.  Perusing the rows of booths is like visiting an outdoor art museum.

One of the four stages at the Utah Arts Festival.
One of the five stages at the Utah Arts Festival.

In the evenings, performance art takes precedence as five stages spread throughout Library Square provide the platform for local and national musical acts.  The music covers just about every genre, with bluegrass bands, jazz orchestras, funk and hip-hop performances.  This year they even showcased a rock band with a didjeridu front and center (that’s an Indigenous Australian woodwind instrument).

A beer against the Salt Lake City Library and the Uinta Beer Lounge at the Utah Arts Festival.
Several beer and wine booths are scattered throughout the festival, plus there’s a Uinta Beer Lounge serving high-point, specialty beers.

A film festival also coincides with the Utah Arts Festival, taking place inside the Salt Lake Library.  The Fear No Film Festival centers around a different theme each year; this year it was “boundaries.”  The films are shorts (under 15 minutes each) submitted from around the world and are free to see (unlike the rest of the festival, which has an entry fee).

Chef Robert Sullivan of the Epicuriousity Booth, where food meets art.
Chef Robert Sullivan of the Epicuriousity Booth, where food meets art.

There are more than 18 food booths, plus plenty of wine and beer, too.  This year saw the addition of the culinary arts to the festival with the Epicuriousity Booth, focused on gourmet food.  The food is as enjoyable to look at as it is to eat, which is exactly the point because as Chef Robert Sullivan of Utah Food Services said, “you eat with your eyes first.”

The Urban Art area, dedicated to tagging and graffiti-like art forms.
The Urban Art area, dedicated to tagging and graffiti-like art forms.

If that’s not enough, there are art workshops, a slam poetry stage, a kids station for art projects, an urban art section to watch graffiti-like art in action (and participate, too), dancing competitions and some of the best people-watching you’ll find all summer.

The festival is set against the beautiful background of the City & County building.
The festival is set against the beautiful background of the City & County building.

The Utah Arts Festival is one of my favorite weekends in Salt Lake City.  Not only am I a huge fan of art in all its forms, but I love sipping on wine (or beer) while enjoying art in Utah’s awesome outdoors, too.  While this year’s festival is behind us, mark your calendars for next year’s festival: June 25-28, 2015.  And for some amazing photos of the entire event, check out the official event photographer Austin Diamond’s gallery here.

Disclaimer :: I was invited to be part of the Utah Arts Festival Art Tour and therefore received free admission to the festival.  As always, opinions expressed here are my own (besides, I’ve long been a fan of the Utah Arts Festival!). 

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