Salt Lake County owns an extensive art collection that is divided into two categories: the Percent-for-Art Collection, and the Visual Art Collection. Between the two, Salt Lake County has the largest government art collection on display in the state. Pieces from each collection on are display at each of the four county-operated performing arts venues: Abravanel Hall, Capitol Theatre, Eccles Theater and the Rose.


Percent-for-Art (or public art as it has become known) legislation allows up to one percent of money spent by government on new buildings to go toward the purchase and installation of Public Art. Salt Lake County adopted this legislation in May of 1982. Public art is designed to complement a specific site and in Salt Lake County the pieces range from murals and sculptures to mosaics, stained glass, or larger environmental works. The public art entitled “Point of View” near the entrance of the Salt Palace Convention Center is an example.

An eye-catching piece of public art, “Point of View” is a collection of more than 150 standard road signs. Portions of some of the signs serve to create a large, red logo that says “You Are Here.” The logo points to a red bench on the sidewalk.

The piece, created by Maine artist Aaron T Stephan, is designed to become the place to have one’s picture taken in Salt Lake City. Like other cities that have iconic artwork or architecture, this installation beckons people to sit down and be part of the art.

Diametrical words, such as “catch/throw,” “truth/dare,” “desert/ocean” and “sublime/ridiculous” are placed on signs of varying dimensions. The “You Are Here” logo is well-defined, looking at it straight on, but move to either side, and the phrase is no longer visible, leaving one to engage in reading the hundreds of contrasting words.

The Visual Art Collection

The Visual Art Collection is a permanent collection including paintings, photographs, mixed media and sculpture. The Collection is eclectic with a unifying theme – Utah. Each artist represented has lived or worked in Utah, or is currently working in Utah. All works in the collection are on public display at county facilities, with the majority displayed at the County Government Center. The County allocates an annual budget to continue to grow the collection. Through the creation, maintenance and development of this art collection, Salt Lake County is honoring the spirit and values of the people who live and work in this County.

A featured artist in the Visual Art Collection is Houston native Lee Deffebach, one of Utah’s leading abstract painters. Deffebach graduated from the University of Utah in 1949 and had a long and varied career. She received a Masters of Fine Arts in painting from the University of Utah in 1989. The Fine Art Collection features seven of her works, with three on display at the Salt Lake County Government Center, three at Abravanel Hall and one at Eccles Theater.

The Collection also features a variety of urban artists, including works from Sri Whipple, Trent Call and John Bell. Whipple and Call were both raised in Utah and graduated from the University of Utah. All three currently work and display in Salt Lake City.

With art spread throughout our buildings and public areas, Salt Lake County has made a commitment to making art part of the landscape of the Salt Lake Valley. We hope you’ll take the time to enjoy and explore our collections.

Explore Salt Lake County’s Public Art Collection (Click Here) 

Posted in Arts & Culture