Buried beneath churches and suits, there is a truly urban culture in Salt Lake City ready to express itself. The Urban Arts corner of the Utah Arts Festival shows what it means to have style and flair.
Hip-hop has broken away from Michael Jackson’s leather jackets and white socks and migrated into an urban uniform that is often overlooked. But the style of hip-hop is more than the clothes you wear and the music you listen to; it’s the art you create, and that is what the Urban Arts area aims to represent.
In this small corner by the southeast entrance, you will find a collection of professional artists, community instructors and unknown citizen artists who share their talents on an obtuse structure of plywood that has been transformed into a communal piece of art.
Some of the vendors include Uprok, a hip-hop shop that has everything from T-shirts to spray paint to music. Across the way, you’ll see Mason Fetzer, a local artist who features hip-hop icons replicated using spray paint on wooden boxes and old-school vinyl records. Next door sits Copper Palate Press (its studio sits behind the mural that decorates Second and Second), a collective print shop whose art has been featured all over Salt Lake City, from the new Squatters beer label to the Farmers Market poster.
But the Urban Arts section is more than just a collection of vendors. It’s a showcase for ways children can express themselves artistically without getting into trouble.
Higher Ground Learning is a contemporary tutoring center that uses an upbeat staff to discover children’s individual learning needs. During the summer, Higher Ground holds educational art camps that focus on learning and getting children involved in the community in a positive way. Also featured is Spy Hop Productions, who aims to get the youth involved in media arts, from video to music production.
The hip-hop art scene often walks a fine line between vandalism and artwork. The Urban Arts area gives young people a safe place to create, the only consequence being a colorful display of ever-changing artwork; even the two large boards surrounding the Urban Arts area are repainted nightly. The area only asks that participants release their inner child and embrace the urban culture that is right under our noses.