Celebrating 3 Years of the “This Is Art, Not a Sign” Art Installation

In May 2017 the state of Utah made a requirement for restaurants in the state to post signs that read “This Is a Restaurant, Not a Bar”. A year and half later those signs became obsolete. So instead of restaurant owners throwing their signs out Tanner asked them to save the signs and donate them to her project.

That project was called “This Is Art, Not a Sign” and consisted of a  collage of the “This Is a Restaurant, Not a Bar” signs that was created by Tanner and Salt Lake City artists and owner of Nox Contemporary Art Gallery owner, John Sproul. The collage consisted of over two dozen signs symmetrically laid out in an art installation.

Three years later we wanted to share this again. Here is an excerpt on the original story from The Salt Lake City Tribune:

“While consumers and business owners said good riddance to the signs in May, Lenart said the repeal is a good example of how Utah’s liquor laws are always evolving. 

“We do not have to stand idly by and let things stay the way they are,” she said. “The Legislature does listen.”

Now the one-year sign experiment has its own chapter in Utah liquor history along with private clubs and the 7-foot-tall barriers — better known as Zion Curtains — that protect children from seeing the pouring and mixing of alcoholic drinks.

Sproul, who owns Salt Lake City Nox Contemporary art gallery, hopes the sign display sparks new conversation among guests, much as paintings, sculptures and other works do.

“Art is all about creating a conversation and seeing things in a new and different way,” he said. “We’ll see what conversation comes out of it.”

In May 2017, as part of a massive liquor-reform law, all Utah restaurants that served alcohol were required to post signs that read “This Premises Is Licensed as a Restaurant, Not a Bar.”

Bars were required to have similar signs that said: “This Premises Is Licensed as a Bar, Not a Restaurant.” The bar signs were especially confusing because many people assumed the bars didn’t serve food.

After a year, the Legislature removed the requirement for restaurants — but not bars.

Bars now must post a sign — at least 8.5 by 11 inches — that states the “Premises is a bar and no one under the age of 21 is allowed inside.” A few of those new bar signs will be on display during Lenart’s show.

The exhibit also includes some of the original misprints that had a grammatical error, using the word “premise.”

Restaurants and bars from across the Wasatch Front sent in their signs, many on the day the new law took effect, Lenart said. Other signs she saw hanging in restaurants months later and asked owners if she could have them for the project.

A few owners were suspicious and refused her request, she noted, “because there is so much confusion about liquor laws.”


Make sure to follow Tanner on Twitter and Instagram for all the latest Utah Liquor Law updates and happenings.


Image Credit: The Salt Lake City Tribune

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