City selects artist for Regent Street public art installation

Most of Regent Street between 100 and 200 South is completed and the street, with the help of some very popular new restaurants, is beginning to attract foot traffic.  Now a long-visioned public art installation is again moving forward.  On Monday May 21, the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City (RDA) and Salt Lake City Arts Council announced their invitation to media artist, Refik Anadol, to submit a public art proposal for Regent Street, the final element of the RDA’s $12 million reconstruction of the street.

The city has allocated $2 million for the Regent Street Public Art Project that is managed by the Salt Lake City Public Art Program.  When completed the art installation will be Salt Lake City’s largest public art project ever commissioned.

Officials selected Anadol from a pool of 136 respondents to the RDA and Arts Council’s Request for Qualifications (RFQ) released on January 10, 2018. The RFQ specifically called for applicants with proven experience in creating large-scale public artworks that respond to the architectural and natural environment and can withstand Utah’s climate.

The nine-member artist selection committee had seven voting members and two non-voting members. Four types of representatives were represented: the project funding entity, project property owners, arts professionals and community stakeholders.

Born in Istanbul, Turkey, and based in Los Angeles, Anadol specializes in the field of embedding media arts into architecture through site-specific public art.  He was educated at Istanbul Bilgi University and UCLA, where he also lectures and does research.

According to the city, before submitting a final design, Anadol will spend up to two weeks in Salt Lake City to participate in independent data collection, stakeholder meetings, site visits and archival research. On June 8, Anadol will hold an open house so the public can meet him and participate in interactive data collection activities.

Following the on-site creative analysis of the Regent Street space, exploration of Salt Lake City’s neighborhoods and surrounding landscapes and engagement with community, Anadol will develop a formal concept for Regent Street art installation.  After a final design proposal is ready, the artist will present to the Salt Lake Art Design Board and Salt Lake City Mayor Jacki Biskupski for final approval.

“Great art inspires all of us, and Regent Street’s rich history should kindle a spectacular work of art,” said Mayor Biskupski in a statement. “We are fortunate to have someone with Mr. Anadol’s international reputation to help us create an unforgettable piece of art for our residents and downtown visitors.”

The redesigned Regent Street was part of the city’s efforts to enhance mid-block corridors and activate the Eccles Theater, which opened in 2016, on both Main and Regent Streets.   The street includes wayfinding, a plaza, art that incorporates the street’s history and ground floor commercial space and connects City Creek Center, to the north to the theater and the Gallivan Plaza, to the south.

The city had previously selected artist Janet Echelman for the Regent Street public art commission while construction was still active in 2015.  But both the artist and the city couldn’t agree on the final terms.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.