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SALT LAKE CITY — Love Letters, a typography and story-based installation art exhibit, has brought another temporary interactive museum to the Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City.
The pop-up provides an immersive dive into the world of storytelling and books, according to co-founder and artist John Connors. “We want a place where people can not just see art and be inspired by it,” he said, “But also to create something while they’re here and send that out into the world.”
The exhibit begins in their “bookstore,” a room full of strategically chosen novels adorning colorful walls. Visitors search for books labeled one through four and push on them, which opens a door in the shelf. They then enter through an archway of books into a world of typography, writing and design.
“Love Letters started in the minds of Becca and Josh Clason, and Becca is a lettering artist based out of Utah with a pretty wide international following,” Connors said. “They had been spending more and more of their time doing tactile lettering, which includes lettering being made out of physical objects. It was more of a natural progression to move towards a bunch of lettering that is large enough for people to interact with it.”
Installation art museums often take between six months and a year to complete, according to Connors. In the beginning they invested a lot of time into determining what kind of story they wished to tell, as well as what questions they wanted to both ask and answer.
“Once we had all of the installation pieces visualized, then it was time to reach out to artists and collaborators to work with on all the different pieces,” Connors said. “There are 15 or 20 different artists that have put work into this piece.”
The variety of styles is evident in the wide range of art installations showcased in the overall exhibit. One room provides a gallery of paintings based on the artists’ favorite children’s stories, all of which drop away to showcase a tiny gallery of paintings within cubby holes in the walls. In another room, a hand-lettered slide sends children tumbling with excitement down a polished page on a giant book.
In addition to the artistic components that can be appreciated by visitors, Connors says that a major goal for the space was to provide a place for guests to also create their own art and stories.
“I think a lot of times this space between traditional museums and Instagram pop-up exhibits gets diluted a little bit, and people think there’s a whole realm of exhibits that exist merely for photo ops,” Connors explained. “Although there are tons of great photo ops here, the primary purpose of this exhibit is to have our guests create something.”
After delving through giant, lettered blocks and navigating fantastic murals, participants find themselves at a print shop where they can print and customize their own prints with hand-carved stamps. In the same room, they can create customized pin-back buttons on a button machine.
“We have an area where you can write a note to a stranger with a little installed mailbox,” Connors added. “Right at the end of the exhibit we have our own little post office where you write a postcard, put an address on it, and we’ll mail it anywhere in the world.”
Connors said he hopes the exhibit not only sponsors inspiration, but also action. This plays into his goals with immersive, pop-up art exhibits.
“For us, it’s about creating a world with more art and more artists,” Connors said. “We believe all art is storytelling. Everyone has the ability within them to be an artist. So, it’s just a matter of figuring out what story you want to tell and what tools you have that you feel help express you authentically, and then practicing and refining yourself with those tools and getting good at it. Start making something.”
Love Letters opened on Monday, June 24, and will remain available through the middle of September. Their doors are open to visitors from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday. Learn more about Love Letters here.