By Drew Reynolds, Arts Writer
February 21, 2022
Tucked in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, the John Williams Encircle Home is a nice space to sit and relax. Located just north of 400 South on 500 East, this is a cozy spot for queer people in SLC to come together and find community. Through various programs, drop-in hours and, most importantly, fresh-baked cookies, the Encircle Home is a warm and welcoming space to all.
Shrinking Plastic and Booming Laughs
Every Wednesday night, the home hosts a low-stakes art night where all are welcome to drop in and make something. This past week they hosted a retro shrinky dink making activity. The home’s dedicated art program host, Sue Hansen, develops art activities in a variety of mediums which I think keeps the program fresh.
I will admit I arrived a few minutes late to the event trying to find parking. A rush of warm air and booming laughter greeted me as I walked into the home. Despite my late arrival, the volunteers welcomed me in and got me all the supplies I needed to make my own shrinky dink.
I joined a table of fellow artists and was blown away by their creativity. The table was adorned with drawings of rainbow cats, sprawling potted plants and wobbling galaxies. There was a tangible sense of levity and joy in the air, everyone chatting and connecting with each other while making their masterpieces.
While my smiling mushroom shrank in the oven, I decided to explore the home — which itself is a work of art. The refurbished interior of the home creates a welcoming atmosphere through its artful design.
Art literally grows out of the walls here. Life-like stucco trees take root in multiple locations in the house. The majority of the interior design pulls from the natural world. Everything from the bathroom tiles to the light fixtures emphasizes the idea of growth and its beauty.
The home also operates as a kind of art gallery. Every room in the home has hung artwork from both youth and professional artists that can be bought. A portion of the proceeds of each sale goes towards Encircle and the continuation of the vital support it provides for LGBTQ+ youth.
Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community
The home offers more than just art-making programs: there’s something for everyone. They host music nights, writing workshops and drop-in hours to chill in the space with free snacks and their newly opened cafe.
Encircle offers free friendship circles for queer youth and young adults, their parents, families and friends to connect with others in the community. The home also staffs licensed therapists you can book with regardless of whether or not you have insurance. All of these services provide a wealth of support for the queer community here in Utah.
With my fully cooked shrinky dink in hand, I left feeling recharged and already wanting to return. You can find SLC Home’s schedule and other information here. Who knows, maybe we’ll see each other on your next visit.