Poor Yorick Studios exists over the tracks in a seldom-seen
part of Salt Lake City.
interior houses more than 30 ingenious, working artists.
Some of the studios shelter two intense artists sharing
space in order to keep the costs down.
||Trent Call waits in his studio filled with his
sketches and inspirational suggestions.
||A wild-eyed David Laub explains his artwork,
which consists of photography, collage, painting
and 3-D work.
||The graffiti room frequently changes its appearance.
Pieces not attached to the wall are for sale.
||Patrons of Poor
Yorick pack the crowded halls at the semiannual
opening last Friday.
It is a warehouse building in downtown’s industrial
theme park. The eight-foot walls that divide the
studio only reach halfway up the 16-foot ceiling. “It’s
fun to hear other people’s conversations and
sporadically answer them” as though they were
in an abstract chat room, said Melinda Meier, a Poor
“We are rough on the edges and we like it that
way,” Brad Slaugh said, a claim which may as
well serve as the motto for Poor Yorick.
Slaugh is the catalyst behind Poor Yorick’s
creative atmosphere. “Brad has a great draw,” said
David Laub, a Poor Yorick artist of three years. “Everybody
here is incredibly talented.”
received his MFA from Boston University. He taught
art courses throughout the state for six years, at
a variety of schools including the University of
Utah, Weber State University and Salt Lake Community
College. “It feels like I have taught just
about everywhere,” he said.
received a fellowship in 1995 that he intended to
use wisely. He also had to find studio space—the
only respectable option for an adept artist without
a garage. He used the fellowship grant to start Marmalade
Studios in 1996. It was open for five years before
it dissolved due to zoning restrictions. It relocated
as Poor Yorick. “I started looking for studio
space and there just wasn’t any,” Slaugh
There are not many ideal spaces for making art—like
ones with running water and ventilation. If you apply
for studio space your name will be put on the ominous “mystery
list,” and the wait can seem guarded by an
Meier looked for about a year before she found
and settled into Poor Yorick in August. She feels
that it was Slaugh’s hard work that makes Poor Yorick
what it is. “His vision…got us all here,” Meier
It took a tremendous amount of work to get the
building up to code. “It was like The Odyssey,” Slaugh
said. After his building had skylights and a few
plywood walls, he started leasing space.
“As fast as I could build [the studios] I would
fill them,” he said. The wait list for Art Space
Studios was about 300 people deep when he first started
his studio endeavor.
“It is just like an office,” Meier said.
They are usually open during the day and people wander
The casual professional space is probably nicer
than most offices. Meier described the atmosphere
as a young, vibrant energy. Variety among the different
types of artists and styles adds to the eclectic
There are not many requirements for this lax
community. The two rules are: If asked to turn
your music down, turn it down, and if someone’s music is bothering
you, ask him or her to turn it down.
The artists police themselves for safety concerns
and to create a comfortable working space.
Even though there is a low turnover rate, Poor
Yorick tries to accommodate as many applicants
as it can. “I
have had to turn some people away because we didn’t
have the facilities,” Slaugh said. The artists
share sound space and airspace, so heavy machining
and a lot of chemical use is not allowed, although
there is a spray booth for aerosols and other toxins. “If
there was a fantastic artist who was obnoxious, they
probably wouldn’t find a place here,” Slaugh
said. It is a small, respectable community and good
manners are a must.
Tessa Lindsay, a multi-talented fresco, watercolor,
3-D and restoration artist has had a studio in
Poor Yorick since it opened. “The artists here are
private,” she said. “Personally, I don’t
let anyone into my studio when I am working on a
The working title of Lindsay’s latest series
is the “Mormon Enigma Series.” Poor Yorick’s
running joke is, “Tessa is working on her secret
“Artists tend to be myopic. They can have tunnel
vision and only focus on their aesthetic,” Lindsay
observed. “Diversity is key,” she said.
“There are such a variety of other artists,” said
Ben Webster of Athenaeum Press.
The artists of Poor Yorick are quite attached
to the diverse environment.
“Critique isn’t given unless it’s
asked for,” Meier said. The artists are respectful
of other artists’ space. Meier noted it was nice
to have people around she can ask about a stumbling
block in an artwork. Answers to questions about colors,
lines, chemicals and techniques can be obtained by
shouting over a wall.
“Artists can critique things too early,” Slaugh
says. He explained it was like incubating an egg and
if you crack the egg open prematurely, you might not
recognize the chick inside and peck it to death.
Poor Yorick recently started the Pragmatic
school for adults,” Slaugh said. The classes
range from $80 to $135. Patty Kimball and occasionally
Doug Braithwaite, both artists and art teachers,
and Slaugh teach classes ranging from color theory
to figure painting. There are classes for different
levels of students from beginning drawing to extended
model pose figure drawing. Extended pose gives the
artists multiple days to work on the same figure
piece. Usually, the model will sit in a pose for
two to four hours and then the class moves on, but
extended pose presents the opportunity to improve
the quality of the artwork.
Derek Martinez, tattoo artist and Poor
Yorick artist, is gleaning Poor Yorick’s eclectic art community
not through the classes but through the encounters
with his resident peers. He has painted and drawn
for most of his life, but is learning new oil and
acrylic paint techniques from the artists. He shares
a studio with printmaker Julian Hensarling.
“It is our way of expressing ourselves,” Martinez
said. His artwork is not for profit—that’s
what tattooing is for—but he will trade art with
artists he respects. “There is a lot more value
in it that way because then it is special for a reason,” he
“I like having a space where I can keep my art
stuff from running into my other stuff,” Martinez
It is workspace first, but the artists open their
doors to the public two nights each year.
The hallways, however, are always loaded with art.
The art usually comes from the curious creators inside
the walls, but they also extend their hand to “honorary
Poor Yorick artists cleaned away the workspace disarray
for the equinox and the fifth semiannual celebration
on March 19, but the hallways still smelled deeply
of mineral spirits and paint.
The two special nights they open are near the equinox
and usually fall on gallery stroll Friday nights.
Poor Yorick was packed for the spring open studio
exhibition. Art enthusiasts, collectors and friends
cannot escape the allure of the studios.
Because it is so rare an event and the work inside
is never a disappointment, the chance to see always
new, inspiring work is a hard buzz in the Salt Lake
City network. This is an event people don’t
Cars were parked around a three-block radius. The
postcard sent out suggests, “Carpool if you
can swing it at all.” The attendees who brought
their postcards could finish the print on old presses
from Athenaeum Press, housed in the front of Poor
Poor Yorick is the best of the gallery stroll experience.
It is so many galleries in one and because the work
is always new, it’s never redundant.
“It’s great it’s only open twice
a year. Then the work is always fresh,” said
Trent Call, a Poor Yorick artist.
“We would love to do more shows, but the truth
is, we just can’t,” said Slaugh. He feels
if artists make work too quickly then the quality can
The guts of art creation still linger. Figure studies
line the walls next to finished works. Poor Yorick
is usually all work, no display. The ghost smelling
of mineral oil, spray paint and ink cruises through
“I know why they only open it twice a year—it
was a pain in the ass to clean this place up,” Watson
The artists are as eclectic as the food they
serve. Some offer vegan options, others offer
barbecue chicken. In some of the studios the
gallery stroll staple, Livingston wine, has been
replaced by the award-winning Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Poor Yorick is 530 W. 700 South. Classes are open
to the public. For more information, call Brad
Slaugh at 759-8681.