Utah Artist Says Art Advocacy Group Used His Work Without Credit

Oct 8, 2019, 1:48 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A local artist said the city and county initiative called THE BLOCKS used his artwork on its website without his crediting him — after his mural proposal was denied by the same art advocacy group.

Dozens of pieces of Gerry Swanson’s art can be seen in the downtown area and throughout Salt Lake County. His art can be identified by his signature at the bottom: @SilentSwanArt.

“I’ve definitely pushed my artwork outside galleries and museums,” Swanson said.

Yet the artist hasn’t landed any work through any art advocacy groups like THE BLOCKS, which promotes art in the community and issues grants to local artists.

“I recently submitted a proposal for a call for artist that they did in September and received the denial letter back,” Swanson said. “I decided I’d get on and research their website to familiarize myself a little more with them and found they were using my artwork on their website.”

He said the issue isn’t that they used it. After all, the work is out in public. He said it’s more of an ethical problem.

“If they aren’t actually capable of giving artists the credit, then are they really being advocates for the arts?” Swanson asked.

KSL TV reached out to The Blocks, which operates under the umbrella of Salt Lake City’s Downtown Alliance. The group responded in a statement:

“Part of the ethos of THE BLOCKS is to recognize artists’ work that enhances the vibrancy of downtown. Artist recognition is one of the reasons we recently created a map of downtown murals and public art. The map is a work in progress. We are collaborating with several organizations and arts leaders to ensure that all of the listings credit the artists that created the content.”

Swanson said he also reached out to the group, and it has since taken down some of his artwork. However, he said he can’t shake the feeling that art has turned into politics.

“I’m thinking my artwork is being used for their agenda, but I’m not getting credit for it in any way,” he said.

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Utah Artist Says Art Advocacy Group Used His Work Without Credit