“Dreamscapes” has been an exciting fixture of downtown Salt Lake City since November 2018. In the time since opening, it has inspired thousands of people and helped contemporary artists find their place as well.
Earlier this week I visited the exhibit and spoke with the Executive Director of the Utah Arts Alliance and artist Derek Dyer about the project.
“Dreamscapes” is an experience like no other. Nestled into a small storefront in the heart of The Gateway mall, the exhibit is deceptively expansive. After entering the space, my group and I were led to a living room. Dim lighting revealed poetry pasted to the walls above a scatter of unassuming furniture.
We soon found a secret opening that led us to the rest of the exhibit. After leaving the living room, we found ourselves in a dream world. The path through the exhibit was intuitive. Following each installation to the next felt like the unconscious sequencing of a dream.
The light in the exhibit came solely from the artwork itself, giving every space a completely unique feeling. The path through the exhibit expanded and contracted, making us more aware of our surroundings, adding energy and emotion to the experience.
The exhibit ends in a dark room glowing with neon paint on the floor. The markings on the floor lead you to a station where you’re asked to write something you wish you had the courage to do, then hang it up in the room. Exiting the exhibit and going back into the real world felt surreal. In the difficult year 2020 has been, experiencing “Dreamscapes” was a welcome change of scenery and state of mind.
“Dreamscapes” is a “found art” exhibit, meaning the materials used in its construction were once discarded. It’s impressive that this was not a limitation of what the artists were able to achieve– it actually seemed to add a layer of depth and meaning to the installations as well as make a statement about sustainability in art.
“Dreamscapes” is made possible by the Utah Arts Alliance. Speaking with Derek Dyer about his role in both, it’s clear to see that the initiative behind the creation of these institutions is the same.
Seventeen years ago, Dyer felt there were few opportunities for contemporary artists to find work or make a name for themselves in Utah. Founding the Utah Arts Alliance was a sure way of changing that. Since its conception, the Utah Arts Alliance has broadened the horizons of the Utah arts scene and has given hope to contemporary artists trying to find their place here. “Dreamscapes” has been one of the largest and most successful projects here, a result of hard work on the part of people like Dyer and others who are passionate about growth and expansion in the arts.
Immersive art exhibits like “Dreamscapes” have become an increasingly popular medium of expression in big cities throughout the world. Successfully showcasing an exhibit like this in a smaller city like SLC was something that had never been done before. It seems taking on that challenge has more than paid off. Since 2018, Dyer estimates nearly 100,000 people have visited “Dreamscapes.” He mentioned that many of those people were given free tickets as part of an initiative to eliminate barriers for people in underserved communities in experiencing art.
The future of contemporary, innovative art of all kinds is bright in SLC thanks to the hard work of many in the arts community here. “Dreamscapes” is a trailblazing exhibit that has put SLC on the map and will hopefully usher in a vibrant future for artists in the state.
“Dreamscapes” will be open every day until Nov. 29 of this year, after which it will be deconstructed for its re-opening at a new location. You can find tickets and more information on their website.