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It's not often that the public gets to witness the creative process in the visual arts. At museums, visitors can see the results of the artistic impulse, but outside contemporary performance art and the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, viewers seldom get inside to see the gears grinding and lights flashing at the moment of creation.
Annually for the past four years, the Urban Gallery project has offered exactly that glimpse behind the curtain. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 23 and 24, you can gather with a motivated west-side Salt Lake City community to watch the garage doors of Neighborhood House turned into artworks through the cooperative effort of eight talented street artists.
Can street art be equated with what adorns the walls of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts? In a word, yes.
"We're looking forward to people coming to join our families and artists," says Jacob Brace, executive director of Neighborhood House, which provides child and adult day-care programs and other services to low-income families. "A lot of us have never gotten to walk into an artist's studio and experience the creative process."
Even as preparations for painting begin, this year's Urban Gallery will be a metaphor for community harmony and action in hard times.
"This is a chance to get a view of the artistic process as eight artists come together on a cooperative project," Brace says. "They don't have much time to come up with a vision and cover a large area with art."
The art will be created by Swinj Art Production, a collaboration of Benjamin Wiemeyer, Evan Jed Memmott, Gailon Justus, Mike Murdock, Richard Landvatter, Trent Call, Skyler Chubak and Sri Whipple.
"Each artist will bring their unique style to the project to present the community with a cohesive, life-affirming mural that celebrates life in an accessible urban style," Call says. "Each door becomes a window into this colorful, fun and funky world."
Urban Gallery was started by 337 Project, whose founder, Adam Price, is now the executive director of the Salt Lake Art Center. "This year we will see eight artists working cooperatively to execute a single artistic vision," Price says. "I encourage the public to come see some of Utah's best urban artists create an installation for the benefit of the community. The spirit of cooperation and unity is fresh in a sea of cynical times."
The Urban Gallery is also a community festival, with art activities, music and food. At the same time, it's a funeral wake for the previous year's artwork, which will be destroyed.
"We paint over the last year's art," Brace says. "It's an organic process. The artists are well aware their artwork will last only 10 to 12 months. The archival quality to it is that it becomes viral as the viewers leave and encourage people to get out and see it before the year runs out."
Watch art get created
P The annual Urban Gallery offers arts lovers the chance to view the process of making art all to support Neighborhood House.
Where • Neighborhood House, 1050 W. 500 South, Salt Lake City
When • Today, 3 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.