Neighborhood House, located on Salt Lake’s west side at 1050 West 500 South, was founded in 1894 by former teacher Emma K. McVicker. McVicker hoped to provide children from lower-income neighborhoods with the tools to succeed in main-stream schools with their more privileged peers. Today, Neighborhood House provides the same level of services to the community, providing a multicultural and multilingual environment for pre-school children, after-school programs, and opportunities for older children to work as mentors, as well as adult day car for elderly individuals. Committed to providing resources to enrich the community, Neighborhood House also offers some unusual cultural resources, such as their outdoor Urban Gallery.
The Urban Gallery exists as the artistic transformation of 680 square feet located on the utilitarian doors of Neighborhood House’s garage structures; the project debuting this weekend will feature part of a global art action arranged by internationally renowned artist JR. The artist’s ongoing Inside Out Project features larger-than-life black and white portraits that reveal and share the faces and stories of nearly 10,000 communities around the globe.
Salt Lake will soon join other communities “on the map.” Over the past month, photographer Michael Shoenfeld shot hundreds of individuals from the 84104 and 84116 area codes who responded to Neighborhood House’s call for participants; art instructors from the U of U volunteered their time to help select shots and create a layout for the project. The end result: 80 black and white portraits of local individuals wheat-pasted to the doors over the past week. Executive Director Jacob Brace was introduced to artist JR’s work by a friend, who showed him an article in Juxtapose magazine. Brace says that it was the “broad inclusiveness” and interactive nature of the project that intrigued the staff at Neighborhood House, and spurred the Urban Gallery to move away from previous paint (primarily aerosol) based projects. Brace hopes that viewers will appreciate the project not only for its artistic value, but for its community-building value.
The imagery is up just in time for Neighborhood House’s annual fundraising event, the Tent Party, which will take place this Saturday, September 22. But the entire process and completed project will also be documented on the Inside Out Project website, where viewers around the globe will be able to get to know Salt Lake’s diverse and unique people.