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South Salt Lake Journal

An investment in arts programs brings recognition to SSL

Oct 01, 2022 08:46PM ● By Peri Kinder

By Peri Kinder | [email protected]

South Salt Lake’s investment in the arts is bringing attention to the community through projects like Mural Fest, utility box art and Craftoberfest, which marks its fourth anniversary Saturday, Oct. 8.

The event celebrates the area’s creative vibe with an afternoon full of live music, food trucks, art booths, a Barrel & Keg art auction and craft beers and cocktails from SSL businesses.

“We started Craftoberfest because we’ve had a lot of breweries and distilleries that have moved into this neighborhood so we thought why don’t we do something like an Oktoberfest,” said Lesly Allen, SSL Arts Council executive arts director. “Anybody that’s doing anything cool is part of this. It’s not just a beer festival but an event to celebrate all of our creative businesses.”

The event will be held from 1-6 p.m. on Oakland Ave. (2460 South) between Main Street and West Temple.

As the city continues to grow its art community, the SSL Arts Council wants to bring creative opportunities to more residents. For seven years, the council has provided art classes for older adults, bringing in artists to teach different mediums every month. From oil painting to mosaic tile to watercolors, older adults enjoyed classes until COVID shuttered the senior centers.

“We stopped holding in-person classes and started doing take-home packets so seniors had an art project to do at home,” Allen said. “The evening classes switched to an online platform and we even did a few classes outdoors in the park.”

In-person art classes are now back and the program has expanded to include all adults. The Creative Arts for Life program was established with additional funding the council received to bring classes to more SSL residents, and they partner with organizations like Bad Dog Arts to help run the program.

Located at the Community Opportunity Center (2530 S. 500 East), the Creative Arts for Life classes bring exposure to alternative types of visual arts like fiber, tile and chalk. Each course description is posted online at and with a limit of 25 attendees, the class usually fills up. Art classes are free to SSL residents and $40 for nonresidents.

September’s classes included the Japanese marbling process called Suminagashi, creating Guatemalan worry dolls and European paper quilling. By learning art techniques from different countries, Allen hopes participants learn to create connections with diverse cultures.

“Our mission is we want to unite our community through art,” Allen said. “It’s mainly about providing our residents with opportunities to engage in the arts, whether they’re creating art for themselves or witnessing art being created.”

Along with rejuvenating neighborhoods, Allen said an investment in the arts creates pride in the area, brings a feeling of community to residents and allows opportunities for healthy social engagement for people of all ages.

“Social engagement is a huge part of the arts program,” she said. “It gives them the experience of creating art as they age and they can enjoy the benefits that contribute to mental health.”