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Artists Unite

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Artists and art devotees should check out the Utah Arts Alliance (UAA), a local nonprofit designed to foster appreciation of all forms of art. Offering locations for artists to display their work and events where the public can find locally produced art, the UAA provides an unparalleled level of support to Utah's artistic community.

The Utah Arts Alliance was officially founded as a nonprofit in 2003, but had its origins in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. "The folks planning the Olympics seemed to take for granted that we had to doll up our city with non-local art in order to impress the huge influx of tourists," programming director Michael Christensen says. Derek Dyer, the founder of the alliance, thought differently. "When the world came to Salt Lake City, he wanted them to see what the city really had to offer in the way of art," Christensen says.

Now, the organization serves tens of thousands of people annually. With two showcase locations and one full-service music studio, the UAA works with numerous arts and cultural groups throughout the state. The alliance also hosts the annual Urban Arts Festival.

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UAA has "so many opportunities for people to take ownership of genuinely inspiring projects—[it] really is filled with a bunch of leaders," Christensen says. "UAA seems to reliably attract some of the most passionate and intelligent people I've ever met."

The organization's other staffers are just as enthusiastic as Christensen. "We are always looking for new and innovative ways to bring art to the communities we serve," Lesly Allen, UAA board member and Urban Arts Festival Artist Marketplace Coordinator, says. "What I love most about working for UAA is the vision that nothing is impossible."

Andrew Watson, UAA venue manager, agrees. "I love that I get to help artists focus more on their work—that important transition from amateur to professional as their work intensifies," he says. "It's really exciting to see and support that."

The alliance has two main locations—The Arts Hub and the Urban Arts Gallery. The Arts Hub (663 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City) has numerous venues perfect for arts and community programs, classes and projects. It currently houses 35 artist studios, office space for arts-based nonprofits, dance studios, an events center, community gardens and more.

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The Urban Arts Gallery (137 South Rio Grande St., Salt Lake City) is located inside The Gateway mall and is open Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 8 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. The gallery showcases contemporary works by local artists in a broad spectrum of styles, and also hosts events and other performances.

And if you haven't checked out the Urban Arts Gallery yet, this spring is the perfect time. The gallery's annual Star Wars show will run from May 4 through June 5, with the theme "In a galaxy far, far away." The gallery will feature pop culture works inspired by the new and original Star Wars films.

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