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Sugar House Journal

Fred Conlon flexes creative muscles making art out of metal

Jul 20, 2018 14h53 ● By Spencer Belnap

Fred Conlon poses in front of one of his creations at the Utah Arts Festival. (Spencer W. Belnap/City Journals)

By Spencer W. Belnap | [email protected] 

Salt Lake City’s Fred Conlon has been creating unique and fun metalwork art for quite some time. He takes his creations to festivals across the nation, including the big annual Utah Arts Festival the third weekend of June. Hundreds of his handmade monsters, creatures, pop-culture items, and lawn ornaments filled his booth spaces outside the Salt Lake City County building. Conlon took some time during the festival to talk about his career, inspiration, and artwork.

“I started a pottery studio in Sugar House about 20 years ago,” Conlon said. “We were right across the street from the post office, so I called it the Sugarpost. We were by the post office for a couple years, and then moved around to the old fire station on 2100 South and were there for several years. Then I started doing metalwork and needed bigger space.” The name stuck, and the workshop is still called the Sugarpost, based in a warehouse in South Salt Lake for the past decade.

Conlon is from Colorado originally, but has called Salt Lake home for about 30 years. He met his wife Taya here and they have four children. While he spends most of his working time in the Sugarpost shop, he enjoys traveling to various festivals across the country and meeting all sorts of people.

The one-of-a-kind pieces of art Conlon creates come in various sizes. They could be for the home, office or yard. He believes in making art that anyone who likes it can afford.

“I think art needs to be affordable,” Conlon said. “Sometimes people think unless they’re spending a couple thousand dollars on stuff, but I like to think anyone can come in here and spend 15 or 20 bucks, and go home with something that’s a handmade original piece of art.”

Various ages were admiring and smiling at Conlon’s work during the Utah Arts Festival, but a lot of his stuff seems to particularly attract children and teens. Which makes perfect sense after finding out where much of his inspiration comes from.

“I usually say my kids were the inspiration behind most of these monsters,” Conlon said.

For up and coming artists, Conlon believes in flexing creative muscles and never letting them weaken.   

“People come in and they say, ‘Man, I’m not creative at all,’” Conlon said. “And I say creativity is like a muscle. If you use your muscle a lot, it gets quicker, it gets faster, it gets stronger. Creativity is the same way. If you use it, it gets better. But if you don’t, it tends to atrophy and go away, just like anything else.”

Conlon spends most of his time in the Sugarpost creating metalwork art, but he also teaches welding through The Other Side Academy there. The Other Side is a training school where students, often convicts, homeless, or substance abusers, learn vocational and life skills. Conlon believes if someone learns a valuable trade like welding, they’ll always be able to find a job.