History

A Brief History of McGrews

Updated 2/14/2016

 

 
McGrews opened its Salt Lake City doors to the public in 2001, in Art Space’s original downtown building on Pierpont Avenue.

 

From an upstairs loft of merely 300 square feet, our outfit has expanded to a more than 3000 square foot storefront (and for particular projects – up to 10,000 feet) of workshops and showroom space. From its humble beginnings as a sole proprietorship, our business is now operated by several designers and their artisan staff, plus at least three college interns every semester.

 

The picture to the right shows what the Pierpont Avenue storefront looked like in 2010, prior to a major remodel.
A neighborhood focal point on Salt Lake’s historic Pierpont Avenue, McGrews has added appeal and magic to the downtown area.

 

Our shop, along with our staff and friends have played host, formally and casually, to the many gallery strollers, tourists, photographers, journalists and adventurers who’ve perused the block’s interesting features.

 

As a cultural anchor, we’ve provided a hub for society’s movers. At special gallery events, meetings and impromptu get-togethers, celebrities, artists, composers, authors, chefs and politicians have been in our midst. Many citizens have stopped by over the years to chat about the news of the day, their current projects, or even 18th century tailoring.

 

The personal and professional paths of many people have intersected and shifted course within our midst.

 

Clients and projects have included everyone and everything imaginable, from films and plays to political campaigns, dance productions and pets.

 

December 2015 ended with McGrews (plus 99% of Pierpont Avenue’s other tenants) moving out! We moved nearly fifteen years worth of collected materials, tools, costumes, props and fixtures, and it was quite an ordeal! The historic building we occupied for so long was purchased earlier in the year by out-of-town investors who more than quadrupled the rents…. and thus goes the timeless tale of gentrification.

 

Location shooting. 60 mph winds on the Salt Flats to make our Wheel of Time-inspired film "Flight from Shadow"

Location shooting. 60 mph winds on the Salt Flats to make our Wheel of Time-inspired film “Flight from Shadow”

 
Our designers and crew are enthusiastic about our NEW location in Salt Lake’s Granary District.
 
Our new, larger space allows us to build larger productions plus host bigger guest designers, workshops and events. 

 

 
 

 

Regardless of where we do the majority of our actual work (for some projects we rent extra warehouse space plus we’ll often take our work home with us), the view shared by everyone on our main collaborative team is that each project and each performative event deserves excellence in its form and function, engineering and execution, tailoring and fit. That’s the way it is with this bunch.
 

 

Naturally, there are many good stories about how everyone met one another and decided to join forces. Jen, however, scolds that “collaboration” is the wrong word, that collaboration is something that college students are forced to do in ‘group work.’ In the real world, she says, the discriminating and determined among us get to choose our associates and co-creators.
Operation managers Jen and Hraefn, hamming it up for a photo. Designer and shop steward Jen oversees all the tailoring and wearable elements of the business. Producer and designer Hraefn (pronounced "Raven") Wulfson oversees everything related to production design, sets, props, miniatures and special effects. Both have long resumes in the entertainment world and both work in client relations as well as script development. They are tireless artistes who champion excellent form and function in the things they create and the projects/people they supervise. On some occasions, they even wear costumes.

Daily shop operations managers Jennifer McGrew and Hraefn Wulfson ham it up for a photo.
Jen oversees the costumes, tailoring and wearable elements of the business.
Hraefn (pronounced “Raven”) Wulfson oversees everything related to production design, sets, props, miniatures and special effects.
Both have long resumes in the entertainment world and both work in client relations as well as script development. They are tireless artistes who champion excellent form and function in the things they create and the projects/people they supervise.
On some occasions, they even wear costumes.


Pierpont Avenue storefront. Always interesting people passing through the neighborhood. Hraefn Wulfson and Charmone Ford.

Pierpont Avenue storefront. Always interesting people passing through the neighborhood. Hraefn Wulfson and Charmone Ford.

Running Salt Lake Comic Con's Cosplay at the Leonardo's Classes. Danielle Chard, Dan Farr and Jennifer McGrew.
Kabrina Miller as Moiraine Damodred from our second 'Wheel of Time' inspired film, currently in production

Kabrina Miller as Moiraine Damodred from our second ‘Wheel of Time’ inspired film, currently in production

 

Pierpont shop location undergoing a big remodel!

 

Hraefn and Russ, working on giant stage props for USANA

Hraefn and Russ, working on giant stage props for USANA

 

A few of our crew (Eliza, Jessica, Jen and Ivonne) running the Cosplay Competition and the Cosplay First Aid Station (giving free costume repair supplies and services to all Salt Lake Comic Con attendees). 2014

A few of our crew (Eliza, Jessica, Jen and Ivonne) running the Cosplay Competition and the Cosplay First Aid Station (giving free costume repair supplies and services to all Salt Lake Comic Con attendees). 2014

Staff and friends, steampunk in Salt Lake. Photo courtesy of Rick Egan, The Salt Lake Tribune

Staff and friends, steampunk in Salt Lake. Photo courtesy of Rick Egan, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2010.

Pierpont Avenue, home of McGrew Studios. Photo courtesy of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Pierpont Avenue, home of McGrew Studios. Photo courtesy of The Salt Lake Tribune.

 

A BOWSER custom head, in progress at the shop

A BOWSER custom head, in progress at the shop

Artists Greg and Tim Hildebrant created Lord Scrennagle's portrait for James White’s novella “Custom Fitting,” and the illustration graces the screen of our giant steampunked computer screen in our shop's front parlour. This image appeared originally as the cover of Stellar #2, a 1976 science fiction anthology published by Random House division Ballantine Books. This image is a very important piece of the McGrews' mythos for a number of reasons.
To the right is Jennifer McGrew, who started sewing and building costumes at around age nine.
 
Forty-some years later, she still hasn’t kicked this habit.

 

In fact, for decades she has indoctrinated many others-  friends and collaborators as well as colleagues, interns, clients and the public into adopting her peculiar world view that things should be made beautifully and with quality. She is something of a sartorial tyrant on these particular matters. But it is also widely known that she is a warm friend, a fierce ally, a mentor and cheerleader to many.

 

Prior to returning to Utah in 2001, she lived on both coasts and worked at several regional performing arts companies. She built, designed or managed wardrobe, crews, and clients for their productions plus for many other professional organizations. She even completed two graduate degrees and taught college courses for fifteen years.
 
 

 

If you’re into seeing highlights from our professional resumes, there is more to see and know about us on our social media sites plus on IMDB and LinkedIn, etc. These are on our personnel page.

 

 

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