Beneath its mountain-town image, Salt Lake City is, at its heart, an art town. Here, performance arts, music and visual arts have captivated Salt Lake citizens since the city’s founding.
In fact, the first public building in Utah, built in 1851, was a Social Hall where early pioneer settlers could gather and enjoy the arts together. It was a great way to lighten up and take a break from their day-to-day toils, and maybe that’s part of the reason that this city still has a love for the arts baked right into its culture.
Murals and installations dot the downtown landscape, including the not-to-miss SLC Pepper, a Beatles cover art tribute in the Pierpont Place neighborhood, “The Book Mural” on 222 South Main Street, and the utopic mural outside the Heavy Metal Shop at Exchange Place. The “Ave Maria” mural on the side of the Guthrie Building is as significant as it is beautiful-this building is home to some of Utah’s most longstanding and beloved artist studios inside.
While dozens of galleries and art-oriented spaces are open on an ongoing basis, there’s an extra special vibe on Gallery Stroll nights, the third Friday of every month (except December, in which it’s on the first Friday).
Here’s a quick overview of a few galleries, although it’s not a full list of every gallery in town. So while you’re ferreting out all the cool nooks and crannies not featured, start with these impressive locations.
15th Street Gallery
Explore contemporary fine art by a number of local and emerging artists at 15th Street Gallery. In addition to paintings, glassware, metal, and ceramics, you can also browse gifts and jewelry or take advantage of the gallery’s custom framing services. This gallery happens to be in one of the city’s charming 15th and 15th district, so you can combine a stroll with a bite at Mazza or Trestle Tavern.
Anthony’s Antiques and Fine Art
A must-stop in Salt Lake’s art scene, Anthony’s Antiques and Fine Art inhabits a stately mansion-esque 22,000 square-foot building in the heart of Salt Lake. A veritable institution, Anthony’s houses rare paintings, sculptures, and exquisite antique furniture and decor from Europe, Russia, and America. A walk through this place feels like an ornate variety of time-travel, and it’s worth savoring every colorful moment.
Art Access believes in art for all, and it shows. This nonprofit gallery showcases the work of both established and emerging contemporary artists, including artists with disabilities and other marginalized communities. You’ll also find art workshops, community outreach, literary arts activities, and mentoring opportunities, with prints and gifts available in the gallery shop.
Arts of the World Gallery
Specializing in traditional ethnic arts and crafts from around the world, the Arts of the World Gallery stuns and stimulates. The gallery feels like a treasure trove full of folk art, decor, handmade jewelry, clothing, woodcarvings, statues, ceramics, masks, and textiles. The gallery works closely with artisans and cottage industries to adhere to fair trade and help traditional arts thrive.
Commerce & Craft
Right in the middle of Salt Lake’s darling, hip Sugarhouse neighborhood on 11th East, Commerce & Craft is a hub for all things well-crafted: original artwork and prints, jewelry, decor, pottery, accessories, stuffed animals, and just about anything else that draws a smile. The gallery notes that “every piece has a human tied to it”-meaning that only real-life artisans’ work is featured, not big brands from who-knows-where.
Finch Lane Gallery
This pretty building sits in the middle of Reservoir Park right next to the University of Utah. There’s always an interesting exhibition going on within, usually featuring local artists who use a wide and refreshing variety of media. The beloved holiday craft market features dozens of artists and offers the perfect way to find one-of-a-kind, meaningful gifts.
This multi-story gallery is a mainstay of Salt Lake’s art scene. The building’s sprawling square footage and rooftop sculpture garden offer room for multiple exhibits at a time, featuring fascinating artists from Utah and beyond. In addition to offering the ideal strolling atmosphere, Phillips includes an art supply shop and professional framing on-site.
Within the lobby of the historic Rio Grande train depot downtown lies the Rio Gallery. Part of the Utah Arts & Museums programming, it serves emerging and established Utah artists and offers a space for collaboration, competitions, and celebrations. The inclusive environment and one-of-a-kind building make for a must-stop on a gallery stroll evening.
Utah Museum of Contemporary Art
Yet another highpoint within Utah’s urban art landscape, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) includes five gallery areas within its expansive space. The place is home to a variety of art programming, workshops, films, tours, and events, and it’s always a shoo-in if you’re looking for a brilliant pairing of local and international art talent.