Best of the Beehive 2023: Arts & Entertainment

Utah is ranked among the happiest states in the union, according to WalletHub, but not so much for our actual emotional and physical well-being. Rather, we scored high in the “Work Environment” and “Community & Environment” categories. Places that bring us joy:

A stroll through the Urban Arts Gallery is never the same stroll twice. The Urban Arts Gallery is an alternative art gallery that features monthly rotating exhibitions of primarily local, contemporary, pop culture and, you guessed it, urban art. The current exhibition for July focuses on forms of sculpture with the theme “Dance With Depth,” and August’s theme is “Cosmic Currents,” inspired by astrology. The Gallery hosts a variety of community events, workshops and classes and also makes the work of local artists available to buy online.

Utah Arts
Plan-B Performance. Photo credit Sharah Meservy.

Catching a Plan-B Theatre performance at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center is an experience. At Plan-B’s core are local playwrights and theatre professionals, helmed by Artistic Director Jerry Rapier, who embrace progressivism, inclusion, diversity and equality. Plan-B also has a delightfully subversive streak that challenges expectations, power and the status quo. For instance, the focus of the 2023-2024 season is the subversion of classic literature by amplifying the voices of femme and gender-fluid characters.

Catching a show at Kilby Court has always been high on the cool kids’ list of favorite haunts, but the main attraction is the much-anticipated annual Kilby Block Party. The music festival draws big names from the indie music scene (who might not deign visit Small Lake City otherwise) and stellar local musicians. It’s become the don’t-miss show of the season.

Utah Arts
Photo courtesy of Kilby Court.

Sipping coffee and taking in the sights and sounds at Mestizo Coffeehouse & Art Gallery provides a little more tranquility and introspection than some of the other entries on this list. It’s an eclectic, community-driven space that not only has a tasty coffeehouse menu (people love the Mexican Mocha) but a fine arts gallery for underrepresented artists.

Utah Arts
Urban Arts Festival Performance. Photo credit Ross Richey.

The Urban Arts Festival started with a small art competition that quickly outgrew its premise. “At the Urban Arts Gallery, we’d do an annual skate deck competition, and it became so big that we thought, why not do an event around it?” Kat Aleman is Utah Arts Alliance’s Manager of Marketing and Communications. She says the event, Urban Arts Festival, outgrew its initial expectations, too. “We asked ourselves, how else can we focus on skate and street and urban art culture? Over the years, it became this huge festival,” says Aleman. 

The Urban Arts Festival now takes over the Gateway in Salt Lake City every September, and it’s Utah’s largest free community art event, drawing an estimated 20,000 attendees and featuring 200 artists, performers and musicians. Among the core elements are local car club exhibitions and the annual Lowrider Hop Off. Of course, “It’s still the Urban Arts Gallery and the skate competition is a focal point of the festival,” says Aleman. 

The Urban Arts Festival is Sept. 2–3, 2023 at The Gateway, and it’s free and open to the public.

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Christie Porter
Christie Porter
Christie Porter is the managing editor of Salt Lake Magazine. She has worked as a journalist for nearly a decade, writing about everything under the sun, but she really loves writing about nerdy things and the weird stuff. She recently published her first comic book short this year.

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