You wouldn't know it from the weather outside, but festival season is about to kick off this weekend. --- From now until early fall we'll witness a slew of events hit nearly every venue and park and street in downtown SLC, giving the city and the state in general some kind of activity every weekend. And it all starts on a street that used to be the crossroads for local art.
Pierpont Avenue will play host to the Urban Arts Festival happening this Saturday, an all day event focused on local music and art on the rise featuring graffiti, poetry, breakdancing, dance, local musicians, skating, biking and so much more in store. Organized by the Utah Arts Alliance and Gray Wall Gallery, the event will be stretched along the the street that was once the epicenter for Gallery Stroll and the rising art scene, helping benefit Youth City as well as Skate 4 Homies. I got a chance to chat with the two people behind the project, our old friends and previous interviewees Derek Dyer and Tamara Fox, about the day's events and the organizations involved, plus a few added thoughts on local art.
Derek Dyer & Tamara Fox
Gavin: Hey Tamara and Derek. First thing, how have you both been since we've last chatted?
Tamara: Great! Gray Wall Gallery is going strong and the festival planning has kept me out of trouble.
Derek: I have been very good. This has been one of the best years so far for the Utah Arts Alliance as well as myself personally.
Gavin: When did the two of you meet each other and become friends?
Tamara: When I first had the idea for Gray Wall Gallery I was looking for a space to rent and was given Derek's number. After hearing what I was planning he graciously offered to make us a project of the Utah Arts Alliance. He's been a wonderful supporter and a fountain of information.
Derek: Tamara has been really great to work with. The Gray Wall Gallery is a great fit with the Utah Arts Alliance programs and planning this festival together has been a really fun experience.
Gavin: How did the idea come about for the Urban Arts Festival?
Tamara: I started with the idea of a community art project where everyone came and painted skate decks. I kept having great ideas and people offering their time and resources and finally decided it needed to be a festival. It just snowballed!
Derek: When Tamara told me about her idea for the skate deck show and skate demonstration at Gray Wall, I thought that it sounded like a great and inspiring project as we got to talking about it we thought about making it bigger and including music and breakdancing and pretty soon it turned it into a festival. I said “like an urban arts festival” and that name stuck.
Gavin: When planning it out, what made you decide to hold it on Pierpont, rather than a formal festival area or public place?
Tamara: I loved the idea of having it on Pierpont because it is such a unique street and area. The arts are coming back to Pierpont and I thought this was a great way to emphasize that while also having a totally unique festival experience.
Derek: Because Gray Wall Gallery is there. I also remember years ago there used to be the Wild West Side festival that was a street festival on Pierpont Ave. I loved the idea of bringing back that energy to the street. Pierpont is a very special place in Salt Lake and the arts scene because of the history and atmosphere created by Artspace.
Gavin: How did you go about choosing the artists and exhibitions that will be on display, and who do you have lined up for people to check out?
Tamara: I felt it was very important that we included as many of our urban artists as possible which in Salt Lake includes clothing, painting, print making, jewelry etc. %uFFFDAll artists provided a portfolio and we picked those that we felt exemplified the best of what it is to be urban in Salt Lake City. Some of the ones we are really excited about are Iosua Tai Taeoalii, Diego Soza Zapata, and Jason Wells.
Derek: Yes as well as Troy Henderson, Chris Madsen, Adrian Prazen, the Weird Chief artists and the Dreamland Sideshow Artists to name a few.
Gavin: You've also got a full day of music planned, who can people expect to see perform?
Derek: We have a stellar line up for this festival. Here is the schedule: Urban Arts Fest Stage 1 Schedule -- 10:00am: PTB, 11:00am: Uncle Scam, 12:00pm: Fat Apollo and the Cellulites, 1:00pm: RockGarage, 2:00pm: Red Bennies, 3:00pm: Oso Negro, Dusk One, 4:00pm: Funk N Gonzo, 5:00pm: MC Pigpen, Pat Maine, Dumb Luck, 6:00pm: Gentlemen Script & Black Mask, 7:00pm: Definition Rare, 8:00pm: Dark Sea. Urban Arts Fest Stage 2 Schedule -- 10:30am: DJ First Touch, 11:30am: DJ Deuce, 12:30pm: Joshua Payne Orchestra, 1:30pm: Urban Dance Organization, 2:30pm: DJ Fyasko, 3:30pm: B-Boy Federation Breakdance Top 8 – Finals, 4:10pm: Mad Mike, 5:10pm: DJ Che, 6:00pm: SLC SLAM Poetry, 6:40pm: Eben Flow, 7:30pm: Anthony Motto. Street Performers - Salt Lake Alterative Percussions 11:30, 1:00, 2:30.
Gavin: What made you decide to bring in more Skate/BMX and Dance performances into the festival?
Tamara: From the beginning it made sense to have skateboarders involved, in fact that was my second great idea after the skate decks. As for the other performances, this is the Urban Arts Festival and we wanted all aspects of the urban community to be involved.
Derek: Yes as we were talking about ideas for the event we felt it was important to be as inclusive and representative of the urban arts and performance community here. The BBoy Federation was one of the first groups that came to mind. They are the premier Breakdance competition event in SLC and hold regular battles at the Utah Arts Alliance as part of our partners program.
Gavin: All the proceeds are not just going to your organizations, but also Youth City and Skate 4 Homies. Tell us a bit about the work they do and how people can donate.
Tamara: Both Youth City and Skate 4 Homies provide after school classes and programs to kids in Salt Lake City and do an amazing job. Skate 4 Homies also gathers skate supplies and gives them to kids that may not be able to afford them. Both programs emphasis community service and becoming good citizens. To donate or volunteer you can visit their websites YouthCity.com and Skate4Homies.com.
Derek: I love both of these organizations and it fits with the whole concept of what the Utah Arts Alliance is all about, community and the support of arts and educational groups. We are the only non-profit that I know of that actually does more fundraisers for other non-profits and charities than ourselves. Skate 4 Homies has been a big partner in this event and Youth City is one of the most important youth programs in the city. Working together we are all stronger.
Gavin: For those interested, are you looking for volunteers, and if so what can they do to help?
Tamara: We are! We love when people from the community get involved. Anyone wishing to volunteer can call me at 801-635-7417.
Gavin: Considering all the other festivals that start popping up this time of year, what do you believe separates yours from the rest?
Tamara: Certainly the focus on urban arts and culture is unique but also the family friendly nature of the event. We have art projects for kids and adults, competitions that the public can enter, free skate times on our skate course, the Uprok wall with a portion where you can test out your graffiti skills, music and performances that the whole family will enjoy and so much more. Its really a festival with something for everyone.
Derek: This festival is completely unique to other festivals. The location is amazing and is not at your typical festival venue like Gallivan Center or Library Square. This is a street festival and urban culture is all about the street. The focus on Urban Arts as the showcase of the event rather than just a side note like you might see at other festivals. This is a creative culture that has grown and developed enough in SLC to deserve its own festival.
Gavin: Coming up on the event do you have any last minute surprises on the way, or are things pretty well set?
Tamara: We have everything pretty well set but you never know! Surprises usually occur!
Derek: I’m not telling. You will just have to come and see.
Gavin: What's the overall goal for this festival and the impact you hope to have on the local art scene?
Tamara: I would say that our goal is to showcase the amazing talent we have in our local urban arts and culture and connect the community with that culture so that they can get involved and appreciate it.
Derek: I agree with Tamara. I am excited to see the community come together to celebrate and experience the creativity and diversity of urban culture and art.
Gavin: What can we expect from both of you, both in art and other events, over the rest of the year?
Tamara: From me you can expect more new artists being shown at Gray Wall Gallery every month as well as a new Pierpont District Association in our neighborhood.
Derek: The Utah Arts Alliance is a constant source for arts activities in SLC. The UAA Main Street Gallery has an amazing schedule of shows booked for the rest of the year and the UAA Center is always bustling with activities all year round. Personally I will be showing my Glitter People photographs at Circle Lounge this summer and am spending the rest of my free time working on a major art installation show that is going to be a commentary on historical archetypes seen through a contemporary lens that is smeared in pop culture with a sprinkling of glam rock. This will probably be my most ambitious project to date. That will be in December at the UAA Gallery on Main Street.
Gavin: Aside the obvious, have you got anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Tamara: I just want to thank Salt Lake for all the support that's been given to the gallery and this event. What a great place to live! So I guess I want to promote Salt Lake City!
Derek: The Utah Arts Alliance has been a strong and growing force in the SLC art scene for going on nine years now. The Utah Arts Alliance is the major hub for emerging artists and performance groups in Salt Lake City and provides amazing opportunities for the community to experience them. We have two other locations in SLC; the UAA Gallery and UAA Midnight Records recording studio at 127 South Main Street and the UAA Center at 2191 South 300 West is a community art center open seven days a week for classes and events. To learn more you can visit UtahArts.org.
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