Visitors to the Utah Arts Festival stride across concrete promenades and grassy lawns sprawled out between fountains and modern buildings, which have glass walls that reflect the fest’s vibrant paintings and eclectic sculptures. Since its inception more than 35 years ago, the four-day festival has taken over a multiblock radius to accommodate hundreds of visual artists, musicians, performers, and culinary artists, each celebrating modern art and the local community. Throughout indoor and outdoor exhibitions, visitors explore varied works of visual art represented through special exhibitions and hands-on workshops with featured artists. A marketplace also gives artists a place to sell their paintings, wearable art, and sculptures to help disseminate their crafts and raise enough money for van Gogh’s ghost to move out of their basements.
Musicians score the festival throughout its days with worldwide genres on several outdoor stages, and storytellers and other literary artists tickle ears with eclectic tales and recitations of the UN staff directory. Across the grounds, festival staffers recycle the fete’s discarded plastic, aluminum, and cardboard as well as food scraps and vegetable oil, and promote eco-friendly practices with a protected bicycle lot and bike valet.
Founded in 1966 as a professional modern-dance company, the Repertory Dance Theater has a long-standing commitment to engaging the public with dance, both through performances and community programs. In the early '90s, RDT helped to invigorate downtown Salt Lake City's cultural and social presence by building the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, where the company continues to practice, teach classes, perform, and host free lectures on the importance of laundering leotards.
Since 1964, Guitar Center has paired musicians with guitars, keyboards, drums, Pro Audio gear, and necessary accessories, including DJ and recording equipment to capture newly made melodies. An iPad music-stand adaptor ($39.99) connects an iPad to a music stand, allowing musicians to access online programs and music apps on-stage, or to publicly dedicate a song to their online Scrabble partner. A clip-on tuner ($29.99) keeps notes pitch-perfect, and Guitar Center’s array of sheet music produces a wider variety of sounds than singing from a thesaurus, with options that include the C-surfing The Real Blues Book ($31.49). Stitch tighter harmonies by threading notes onto Slinky guitar strings ($3.79), or use the value of today's Groupon toward a larger purchase, such as the Epiphone Les Paul Special II guitar ($169–$179.99). Guitar Center rounds out its collection of gear with Pro Audio and DJ equipment, keyboards, and drums, allowing every band member or solo cymbal player to stock up on their chosen form of expression.
A lifelong bookworm, Tony Weller has been working at Weller Book Works since the age of 10, though the bookstore’s story begins well before that. In 1929, Gustav and Margaret Weller—two German immigrants—opened Zion’s Bookstore, the first version of what would evolve into Weller Book Works. After three generations, countless moves, and one building fire that nearly incinerated the early store’s inventory, Weller Book Works is thriving at a new location in Trolley Square under the management of Tony and Catherine Weller.
Though he has had his hand in all facets of the store, Tony mainly oversees the rare-books department, where he acquires estates, performs appraisals, and hunts for the elusive first edition of The Great Gatsby bound in Michael Jordan rookie cards. At Weller Book Works’ massive location, stacks of books line the walls and floors holding titles in genres that range from fiction and reference books to Mormon books and science fiction. The store also holds special events, such as book signings from authors such as Mormon author Joanna Brooks.
A hub for sociable quilters, Elaine's Quilt Block hosts classes and get-togethers alongside a stock of more than 5,000 bolts of fabric and armfuls of notions, patterns, and books. Inside the homey space, which Quilt Sampler magazine lauded as "a beautiful setting for inspiring quilters" thanks to its 19th-century style and scenic location near the Wasatch Mountains, a massive baby room mingles bright hues among pale pink and blue fabrics. Books and patterns teach sewers to arrange geometric strips of fabric into trees, birds, or mime outfits using various stitching styles, such as appliqué and strip piecing. Sociable events including Sew & Tell gather quilters to show off ongoing projects and glean inspiration and information from others. During Civil War–themed classes, history-minded staffers and crafty time-travelers celebrate the heritage of their hobby with patterns that showcase old-timey arrangements and commemorate women's struggles during the war.