Utah Arts Festival starts this week | ParkRecord.com

Utah Arts Festival starts this week

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

Artists will camp out at the gates today and tomorrow as organizers pitch the Utah Arts Festival tents, wondering, if, by chance, someone might not show up to their booth and they might be able to take their place. It’s just that intense at the Utah Arts Festival, according to the festival’s executive director Lisa Sewell.

Who can blame them: the festival in recent years has averaged crowds of 80,000 over four days.

Spots at Library and Washington Squares’ 11 acres are limited to 500 local, national and international performing artists in the streets and on five stages, sixteen food vendors and 130 visual artists at the Artist Marketplace.

Not bad progress for a festival that began by showcasing acts on the bed of a truck on Salt Lake’s Main Street in 1976.

"The festival has grown up with community," says Sewell, noting musicians now travel from Ann Arbor, Mich., and New York City. There are also artists from Israel, Italy and Canada.

The community wants what Sewell calls "freshness."

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To keep it fresh, organizers incorporate new talent to the festival, and increasingly, that talent is coming from the attendees themselves.

Sewell pushes each year for a more interactive, participatory festival, embracing the current do-it-yourself culture cut by user-friendly technology think YouTube, blogging and the popular home improvement and craft shows.

At the Utah Arts Festival, attendees will be able to stumble on a new passion or showcase their expertise. Several of the programs focus on what Sewell calls "urban arts," the metropolitan street culture that has become the mode in youth fashion, music and visual arts. For instance, at 10:30 p.m. nightly, attendees can catch a show with turntable artists DJ Chu and DJ Abstrak, and learn some new moves with the Boogie Men, a four-man dance troupe. Other festivalgoers might spend an afternoon at the "Street Seen" center, to take a tutorial in graffiti art.

The do-it-yourself-urban-dance is accompanied by do-it-yourself-urban-clothing a the "Filthy Gorgeous Clothing" center hosted by artists with a flair for stencils and airbrush design. A blank shirt, bag or hat serves as a canvas.

Fresh to the festival is a 24-hour writing contest "The Wasatch Iron Pen," and a debut UsTube station, a workshop dedicated to budding film talents. UsTube encourages festival-goers to pack along their digital camera (or borrow one from the booth) to learn the art of "clip culture communication," with film expert John Schaefer. The short films are then projected on a large screen and uploaded onto the Internet.

"I know when I go to other events, there’s not much to do I want our festival to be an all-encompassing experience and reach out beyond just being observers," Sewell explained. "Life is so hurried and hectic these days&We want people to relax and have fun and see that there’s a lot to do here."

The 2007 Utah Arts Festival at Library Square, 230 South 500 West, runs from noon to 11 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, beginning June 21.

Adult admission is $8, children 12 and under are free and seniors 65 and above pay $5. A reduced adult admission price of $5 is available from noon to 3 p.m. on Thursday and Friday as well as for college students on Thursday evening ("College Night").

Four-day passes are $25.

Hot tip: park and ride Trax, Salt Lake’s public train, which extends its operating hours during the festival to 11:30 p.m.

For more information, visit http://www.uaf.org or call (801) 322-2428.