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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Kielan Waldo break dances at the Urban Arts Festival at The Gateway in Salt Lake City on Saturday, July 18, 2015.

SALT LAKE CITY — As a child, Hailey Evans would make up stories and then draw pictures to accompany them.

"I still feel like I tell a story with every piece," said the now-20-year-old artist who was selling her paintings at Saturday's Urban Arts Festival at the Gateway.

It was Evans' second year at the local show — the only show she's done so far — and she said that while painting doesn't pay all the bills, she's working on making it a life-long career.

The streets were lined with similar dreamers, some of whom have made festivals and art shows a successful way of life.

"I'm not getting rich," said Chris Madsen. "But I'm doing what I love."

Madsen, a former small business owner, said he used to work long days and had a lot of nice things to show for it. But he gave it all up to pursue photography and alternative ways of processing and showing his work.

"Now, I wake up happy every day," he said. Madsen finds peace and satisfaction in his emotion-evoking pieces, the kind he hopes rekindle memories or past feelings for prospective buyers.

"I like art that makes you feel something emotional," he said, adding that he gathers a lot of inspiration from the Renaissance Era. "I'm always trying to learn and develop new concepts that are still my style, but I like to be able to display something new."

The Urban Arts Festival, in its fifth year, was Madsen's first show as well, and he always comes back to it, as the community and people involved taught him to market himself.

"People love this stuff," said Derek Dyer, executive director of the Utah Arts Alliance, which hosts the annual festival along with other events throughout the year. "This is art and music that is happening now, stuff you'll have to pay big bucks for in a couple of years."

This year, the free festival drew in about 140 artists, 90 percent of whom are local. The only requirement is that the art is "derived out of city life and city living," Dyer said. He said headlining music artists come from all over the country to participate in Salt Lake's healthy art market and crowds were expected to number over 25,000.

"It's a very diverse festival," Dyer said. "It's not just about hip hop and street art."

The Alliance, based in Salt Lake City, also hosts a year-round gallery at the Gateway, with more than 33,000 visitors last year.

"Art is meditative to me," Evans, of Murray, said. "I'm most in the present when I'm working on a piece."

The longer paintings take to complete, the better, she said, pointing to a very large work of art that took weeks to paint. Her booth was also filled with other, smaller pieces and a supportive father helped with the setup and maintenance, joking that the talent was hereditary.

The festival offered visitors a variety of live music and performances on three stages, as well as access to food trucks and live street art exhibits. Each year, Dyer said the show gets bigger and better, but one thing stays the same — "it's a welcoming environment for anyone. If you come, you can expect to stay awhile."

For more information, visit www.urbanartsfest.org.

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