If you’ve never strolled the Salt Lake City galleries during the monthly Gallery Stroll, it’s time to hit the streets and experience the visual arts scene like a true Salt Laker.

Gallery Stroll has been a constant in the visual arts scene for almost 30 years. If you’ve never heard of it, I’ll give you the basics: it’s fun, it’s active, it’s social, it’s free. OK, here are some more specific details. How is it different than just walking into a gallery on any given day? On Gallery Stroll evening (every third Friday of the month) participating galleries extend their hours and open their doors from 6-9 PM. The featured artists are in attendance, the gallery often provides food, and sometimes live music. The event is presented by a non-profit organization that “strives to promote and provide access to the expression, appreciation, and understanding of the visual arts in Salt Lake City and to remove intellectual, social and physical barriers to the enjoyment and understanding of visual art and encourage awareness of Salt Lake City’s diverse visual art community.”

The cool thing about Gallery Stroll is that not just galleries participate. You get restaurants, cafes, salons, offices, etc.

The 15th Street Gallery is one of 30 spots taking part in this month's stroll.

As the former program coordinator for the Gallery Stroll, I feel I can help you out as you venture out this Friday evening for the stroll.

Here's some tips:

One: Visit 15bytes.com which will give you some previews and reviews of exhibits that you might want to check out.

Two: Be sure to go to gallerystroll.org and plan your route. There’s a page that has a list of all the current exhibits at participating galleries.

Three: Plan to attend no more than 4-5 galleries. Any more than that and you might feel rushed and not get to spend the quality time you need at one gallery, but of course, be open to flexibility. You may walk in to a gallery and be done in 10 minutes.

Four: Start in an area with a cluster of galleries, such as the Rio Grande Depot area, the Broadway area, or even Main Street. That way you can hit a few galleries without having to get back in your car.

Five: Eat dinner at one of the places listed on the current stroll (i.e. Caffe Niche, Mestizo’s Café, or Caffe Molise which is attached to UTah Artist Hands.)

Some highlights coming up this Friday night include:

Kim Schoenstadt at the Salt Lake Art Center. She is the inaugural recipient of the Catherine Doctorow Prize in Contemporary Painting. Sometimes she paints on paper or canvas, but you’ll see if you attend this opening, she’s more likely to paint directly on the walls of the gallery. So, don’t miss this opportunity to be part of history.

Kim Schoenstadt Odd Lots Series: Hartford/Fiction (detail) 2010 Paint and pen on wall, 123.5 x 274.25 inches Photo Credit:Allen Phillips/Wadsworth Atheneum

All the cool kids in town are doing collaborations because it’s good for morale, it increases visibility and it’s just fun to get together. Art Access has collaborated with all the other galleries at the Art Space City Center for a Holiday Show. So you can get a head start on your gift giving. Artwork makes a great, memorable gift like this gem by Marci Erspamer.

There’s a little head start on your homework. The Gallery Stroll’s tag line is “Bring friends, meet artists, take home a masterpiece. Be Part of Art.” It is truly one of the best ways to get to know the local artists and you’ll be amazed at the diversity and talent our little city as to offer. You also might be inspired to buy some local art as a gift for a friend – or for yourself.


Laura Durham is assistant editor at 15 Bytes, Utah's Art Magazine, and is a contributor for Salt Lake magazine.