What’s Ya Vibe Awakens Utah Audiences and Uplifts POC Artists

Shalandrea Houchen moved to Salt Lake to dream. After living in big cities like Los Angeles and New York, she developed a blended skillset of artistry and education that created a robust community. In 2019 Shalandrea created What’s Ya Vibe, a community-based organization that curates everything from workshops to activations to gallery shows. Shalandrea describes the ethos of the organization best— “What’s Ya Vibe is literally a check-in, a moment to ask yourself, how are you doing?” she says “It’s about bringing people together and unifying through art and wellness.”

After a few years, Shalandrea decided it was time to relocate. “Put simply, I came here because I needed to be in a place where I could afford to dream as a black woman living in America,” she says. Her ambition didn’t miss a beat. In just seven months What’s Ya Vibe has already collaborated with UMOCA, Oasis Cafe, Lost Acorn Gallery and Tea Zaanti to connect with a Salt Lake audience and share her knowledge of modern POC artists. “I’m used to being celebrated and celebrating my culture, so I just continued doing what I’m used to doing.” All of Shalandrea’s efforts can be broken down into What’s Ya Vibe’s three integral pillars: Workshops, Murals and Interactive Design. Shalandrea collabs with Workshop SLC and other various galleries to offer public workshops like their weekly Creativity N’ Vibe meetup, in which various local artists lead a free art class. Everything from paint to pressed flowers are provided, depending on what class is being led that day. What’s Ya Vibe also offers private workshops, perfect for team-building activities or birthday parties.

Shalandrea levitates at an exhibit. Photo courtesy of What’s Ya Vibe.

What’s Ya Vibe is also an excellent resource for businesses or individuals seeking out artists to create murals. “I have a Rolodex of black, brown and indigenous artists that do murals,” Shalandrea says. 

Art displayed at a What’s Ya Vibe gallery show. Photo courtesy of What’s Ya Vibe

Uplifting local POC artists is at the core of What’s Ya Vibe’s third pillar, interactive design. Ephemeral multi-media shows allow the public to interact with local creatives selling their work, and awaken the audience through sensory experiences. 

Shalandrea will continue to curate unique exhibits and collaborate with businesses like Tea Zaanti and Workshop SLC, but long term, she wants What’s Ya Vibe to have its own brick-and-mortar space. In the next year, she hopes to have a retail space and, eventually, a larger flagship with a plant-based cafe, community garden and shared spaces. In the grand scheme of things, Shalandrea wants to reach a global audience. “By the time I’m 113 years old, I would like What’s Ya Vibe to have a presence on every single continent, and still be a space for everyone.” 

Get involved with What’s Ya Vibe by volunteering, donating or applying for an artist feature at one of their upcoming shows. 

@whats.ya.vibe
Venmo @whatsyavibe


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Avrey Evans
Avrey Evanshttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
Avrey Evans is the Digital and the Nightlife Editor of Salt Lake Magazine. She has been writing for city publications for six years and enjoys covering the faces and places of our salty city, especially when a boozy libation is concerned.

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