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The Arts Issue 2021

Utah arts groups rev up to find a new normal

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Page 4 of 6

Mural stroll: “Sanacion A Madre Tierra” - by RootsArtCollective located at Mr. Muffler - 107 W. 2100 South - THEMURALFEST.COM
  • Mural stroll: “Sanacion A Madre Tierra”by RootsArtCollective located at Mr. Muffler107 W. 2100 South

My Must-Sees
Don't wait too long to check these local art classics off your bucket list.
By Benjamin Wood

Remember the beginning of summer, when it felt like everything we Salt Lakers love was coming back for good after a COVID-imposed shutdown? The Delta variant and the shrugging indifference to human suffering displayed by our elected leaders put an end to that kind of optimism, but hope—as they say—springs eternal.

As we have all been newly reminded that life is fragile and time waits for no one, here's a few of my suggestions for taking in the local arts scene while you still have the opportunity.

Want to add to my list? Send your arts "must-sees" to

Red Butte Garden Outdoor Concert Series
Sure, most of us who attend a concert at Red Butte are relegated to the cheap seats—if you can get a ticket at all—but it's still hard to beat the venue's bring-your-own-blanket lawn seating and bring-your-own-beer hospitality. With the Wasatch mountains on one side and the setting sun on the other, it's no surprise that organizers regularly pull in big-name acts as they tour the country, as well as showcase the Utah Symphony orchestra (tip: those performances are often the least expensive on the Red Butte roster—and some of the last to sell out).

South Salt Lake Mural Walks
The greater Salt Lake area is blessed with an abundance of excellent street art (tip: check out runner and mural-mapper Bryant Heath's @slsees Instagram account), but South Salt Lake has taken things to another level with its annual Mural Fest. The event—its fourth was held last spring—sees 10 pieces commissioned by the city each year, all clustered in the vicinity of South Salt Lake's burgeoning brewery row. The past years' walking routes, or a full Google map of the city's murals, are available at Grab a beer or two while you check it out.

Anthony's Fine Art and Antiques
From Eric Biggart, who suggested this item: "There is no reason Anthony's should exist in Salt Lake City, but it does, and we are all better for it. Anthony's is three stories of world-class European, American, Utah and Asian art, furniture and decorative pieces. They are truly unparalleled in their mastery and knowledge, so every visit is a learning experience. If you are fortunate enough to purchase a piece for your home, congratulations!—you have a conversation starter for the rest of your life. There may only be a handful of galleries on this side of the pond that compare in quality, scale and just plain old awe." More information at

Gilgal Sculpture Garden
No list of quintessential SLC art spaces is complete without mentioning Gilgal, the collection of bizarre Latter-day-Saint-themed sculptures tucked away off 500 South just east of Trolley Square. The infamous Joseph Smith sphinx is the marquee attraction, but there's considerably more to see throughout the garden and plenty of quiet corners to take a break away from the bustle of Salt Lake City's larger, more visible parks. (Tip: If you've already been to Gilgal, other sculptures noted by readers included the UFO missionaries on 300 South, the cats at Steenblik Park and the sugar beets in and around Hidden Hollow)

Ballet West
There's a reason Utah's own Ballet West is among the most widely recognized and renowned dance companies in the country. After almost 60(!!) years in operation, Ballet West is as impeccable as ever, expanding its reach into film and television projects and maintaining a seemingly nonstop performance schedule. That the company performs in the historic Capitol Theatre—a bucket list venue in its own right—is just icing on the cake.

(Tip: Salt Lake is home to a wealth of live dance performances. Among numerous regional and community dance companies, there are standouts like Ririe-Woodbury Dance Co., Repertory Dance Theatre, Odyssey Dance and the University of Utah's Marriott School of Dance, which showcases the work of university students and faculty.)

Late Nights at the Tower Theatre
COVID put the brakes on the Salt Lake Film Society's annual Summer Late Nights series, a funky collection of cult classics, experimental horror and other genre fare that play to an equally funky crowd through the wee hours of the morning. But the Film Society's brick-and-mortar venues—Broadway Centre Cinemas and Tower Theatre—are scheduled to reopen this fall, just in time for January's Sundance Film Festival, which is planning to host in-person screenings again after an online-only event last year. Keep an eye out for special SLFS screenings after October, as well as the titles in Sundance's grab-bag "Midnight" category, which fit the Tower like a glove.

Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Museums are often on the lists of places to visit when a person travels but are sometimes neglected by the folks at home. If you fit that category, then it's high time you made a point to patronize the state's flagship art space. Even if you've been before, Utah Museum of Fine Arts' rotating collections mean there's always something new to see, like the "Space Maker" exhibit on display from now through December. The collection—composed of work by University of Utah faculty—features a variety of media, and explores the myths and histories that shape our experiences of the world around us. (Tip: Looking for more things to do? Visit for online listings of galleries and museums. Keep reading for local performance calendars.)