Visual Art in Utah
The 1899 “Art Bill” created by the legislature established the first state funded arts council in the nation. The original law’s purpose was to advance the interest of fine arts, to develop the influence of art in education, to sponsor an annual art exhibition, establish a state art collection and present public lectures on art.
The State Fine Art Collection has grown annually by purchases and donations and, as a whole, provides an impressive documentation of the history of Utah art. The collection is on display in the Governor’s Mansion, the Glendinning Home, the Rio Grande Depot, the State Capitol building, the Scott Matheson Courthouse, and in various state buildings. Selections from the collection are included in Traveling Exhibition Program bringing artwork to viewers throughout the state.
Public Art in Utah
Public art is most commonly associated with a sculpture or painting in areas accessible or visible to the public, but it can and does go well beyond those media. Terrazzo floors, etched glass, ceiling panels, textiles, stair railings, risers, pavers, planters, landscape, fences and grates are just some of the possibilities for public art contributions to public spaces. The possibilities are as vast as the imaginations of artists and architects.
Utah’s Percent-for-Art Act
In 1985, the Legislature passed the Utah Percent-for-Art Act (Utah Code Title 9, Chapter 6, Sections 401-409), which designates 1% of construction costs of new and/or renovated state public buildings is added to the project for the purpose of commissioning, maintaining and conserving site specific art at, on, or in the facility. The collection includes a broad range of media from textiles and glass to stone and metal monumental works.
Design Arts in Utah
Design is the creative beginning of any human-initiated arrangement of materials. We strive to help the citizens of the state see, experience, use and value the art of design that surrounds us. Design Arts Utah sponsors and mounts an annual exhibition. The Design Arts Competition is dedicated to the promotion of excellence in the diverse fields of design in Utah. This exhibition features work submitted by Utah designers that have been selected by a juror prominent in the design field. Each year’s exhibition displays designs, prototypes, and produced samples by some of the best in Utah’s various design fields.
State Fine Art Collection
Utah’s state-owned art collection began in 1899. Alice Merrill Horne was a candidate for the state legislature on a platform of support for the arts. Once she was elected to the House of Representatives she sponsored a bill to create a state arts organization and to establish a state collection of artwork. In honor of that sponsor, the collection was named the “Alice Art Collection.” The continued acquisition of artwork by Utah artists comes from purchases selected by the Collection Acquisition Committee and generous donations from patrons and artists.
Public Art Collection
There are over 200 pieces in Utah’s Digital Public Art Collection, all created since 1985. Look here to find out what public art is in your community.
Competitions and Commissions
Public Art Call for Qualifications
Find out about local, regional, national and international calls for public arts commissions.
Statewide Annual Competition and Exhibition
The Statewide Annual Competition and Exhibition provides exposure to both new and established Utah artists through public display, publicity, awards and publication of catalogues. The competition focuses on different disciplines, rotating categories in a three year cycle that includes: painting and sculpture; fine crafts and photography; and mixed media and works on paper.
Visual Arts Fellowship
The Visual Arts Fellowship Program awards two $10,000 fellowships annually to outstanding professional artists to acknowledge their artistic excellence and encourage their careers. Exhibitions featuring invited past fellowship recipients are periodically held.
The Rio & Alice Galleries were created as a service to Utah artists. They provide free venues for emerging and established artists to collaborate on exhibits and engage the community through art-making and dialogue. Both galleries participate in the monthly Salt Lake Gallery Stroll and host public receptions on Gallery Stroll evenings.
- The Alice Gallery, located in the Glendinning Home and main offices of Utah Arts & Museums, features selections from the State Fine Art Collection as well as exhibits chosen from community proposals. Download Alice Gallery floorplans.
- The Rio Gallery, in the historic Rio Grande building, sponsors the Statewide Annual Exhibition, the Design Arts exhibition, and visual artist group exhibitions chosen from community proposals.
Proposals for exhibitions in January-July of 2016 will be accepted August 1-September 1, 2015. Be sure to download the guidelines prior to submitting your proposal online. Incomplete entries will not be accepted.
Traveling Exhibition Program
Traveling exhibitions are curated as a collaborative partnership with local artists, arts organizations, and institutions. Utah museums, colleges, university and community galleries, arts and cultural centers, libraries and schools all register for the exhibitions annually. By traveling these exhibits around the State and the use of the accompanying educational materials, the exhibits provide public access to quality visual art, nurture understanding of diverse art forms and cultures, promote creativity and encourage cultural activities in local communities.
Download an information sheet on the Visual and Public Art programs.