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Utah Arts Festival blends craftsmanship with technology

Utah Arts Festival blends craftsmanship with technology

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SALT LAKE CITY — This year’s Utah Arts Festival brought a mix of timeless craftsmanship and 21st century technology.

As you walked past the tents displaying artist’s wares, there were crafts of many types. There were paintings, photography, jewelry, participatory art and live music. There was sand sculpture, writing workshops and decorative items, along with a varied collection of food vendors. One of the most interesting things about the festival were the artists that used modern technology to make and share their creations.

One intriguing display was the Open Road Project, led by artists Greg Covello and Mason Fetzer. This project was a partnership between Higher Ground Learning and Spy Hop Productions.


According to Fetzer and the festival's website, the project was divided into two stages. In the first stage, students of Higher Ground Learning used stencils that they had made to create a mural of an open road scene. After the mural was done, members of the community were allowed to add graffiti to the mural.

In the second stage, time-lapse photography captured the mural over time as the graffiti was added. Spy Hop Productions students created a documentary in which they recorded public reactions to the changing wall.

Festival attendees were able to take photos of the mural and send them to an email address. The plan is to assemble contributed photos into a slideshow. To follow the progress of the project, go to the festival's Open Road Project webpage.

Speaking about Higher Ground Learning, Fetzer said, “They’re an alternative learning center downtown that works with kids, mostly in SAT and ACT prep during the school year. Then in the summer, we get together and do fashion design, urban art, a bunch of classes that are kind of more fun like zine writing. So, this is the Urban Art class from Higher Ground Learning.”

For the first time the Leonardo was part of the Utah Arts Festival. The Leonardo is a museum at Library Square that combines the worlds of art and technology to allow patrons to experience the arts through modern technology tools

Lisa Davis, a Leonardo representative, said, “We’re very excited to be able to participate for the very first time officially as an open museum in the Utah Arts Festival. We think there are a lot of great synergies between our mission and their mission.”

A tour of the museum earlier this year revealed interactive exhibits. One exhibit allows you to send a tweet to a museum Twitter account. The text of the tweet is changed into a colored-light display along one of the lobby walls. Another exhibit allows the viewer to see an electronic map representing demographic data.

Patrick Cassell is a technology journalist living in Utah. Read his views on many things related to Apple at

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