Social distancing is in still place, friends. The weather is absolutely gorgeous and you’re looking for an excuse to get out of the house. What to do? Here’s a great way to see something amazing while keeping our community’s health top of mind. A drive/bike/scooter/walk by mural tour! Really, if you think about it – it’s like a free outdoor museum!!
While you’re out, take note of nearby small business storefronts and find a way to help support them. You in? Let’s do it! Salt Lake City Art Council’s Public Art Program Manager Kat Nix shares her all time TOP 10 FAVORITES. Many of these are in Salt Lake City’s Art Collection, and all of them are pretty fantastic. Kat writes:
Salt Lake City is known for its downtown landmarks like the Salt Lake Temple, City and County Building, McCune Mansion, Salt Lake Library, Trolley Square, and more. But the City has long served as a canvas for outdoor murals and mosaics.
Diverse artists, both local and internationally renowned, have used Salt Lake City’s blank walls and viaducts to depict environmental causes, historical events, abstract patterns, or important cultural figures. Utah’s natural beauty is a common theme as well – a reminder of the red rock and mountains that surround us all.
Murals are also an essential part of Salt Lake City’s business environment, and many folks are starting to take notice. Last year, the Salt Lake Tribune even launched a Salt Lake City Mural Map to catalog notable works and prevent them from being painted over by graffiti removal teams.
In recent years, the Salt Lake City Arts Council and the Redevelopment Agency led several initiatives to bring more public art to Salt Lake City’s project areas and surroundingneighborhoods. These projects include the Granary District Mural Project, Colorful Connection sculptures on North Temple, and Pages of Salt on Regent Street (although not technically a mural, still impressive to see).
If you’re a business owner, and you want a mural painted on your building, we have a repository of artists to get started on your project. Go to http://saltlakepublicart.org/artist-pool/. The Public Art Program’s Pre-Qualified Artist Pool is comprised of 42 professional artists and artist-led teams, all Utah residents. Each was selected by the Salt Lake City Art Design Board through a competitive application process. The list includes both emerging and established artists who work in variety of mediums.
Here are 10 Salt Lake City murals that you can check out right now. These are some of my favorites.
1. Este Barrio no se vende, Jessica Sabogal, featuring Ella Mendoza. More info here.
This is one of my favorite murals because, in my opinion, you can’t go past this mural without thinking about it. In an interview with SLUG magazine, the artist Jessica Sabogal says, “If you see it and you get it, it’s for you. I hope it’s validating and grounding for you. For the folks that feel anything else, if they feel uncomfortable or why it’s in Spanish, or don’t immediately understand its importance, it’s for [them] too. My goal is to make you curious about your apprehension to the work, to sit in it and have the uncomfortable conversations about it.”
This mural makes viewers question a lot of things and brings to light some of the challenges that our community is facing, including the gentrification of Rose Park. It’s one of my favs because it’s powerful and demonstrates unapologetically that brown, queer, undocumented folk must be represented in our public space just as much as anyone else.
2. Shredding the Knar, Charlotte Pili, 9 Line Bike Park ( in our collection)
This piece is new to the Salt Lake City public art collection. Charlotte is an avid biker and a total badass. I love her characters and color palette. This artwork is not just for the regulars at the bike park, it sends a deliberate message of welcome and belonging. Charlotte says, “I wanted the starting blocks to look like people of all shapes and sizes and genders belonged there.” In a traditional male dominated space, Pili’s figures make anyone feel like they are represented and welcome to enjoy the park.
3. Utah Jazz Mural by Karabo Poppy Moletsane
Karabo Poppy Moletsane often talks about hybridity in her work. I love this work because it’s just that, it’s absolutely Karabo Poppy Molestane’s flavor and aesthetic but through meeting and listening to the Jazz players, she’s also picked up on what we are about too. This mural does a great job of bridging communities and styles.
4. Utah Jazz Mural by Trent Call
Trent Call’s Jazz mural is a holder of memories and nostalgia. I like this piece because it draws you in no matter if you are a Jazz fan or just a passerby, you’ll always find something new in it.
I think the location of this collaborative mural is brilliant, and I love the process of the work. Six different artists collaborated on this work and invited the community to participate by a paint by numbers. By choosing a unifying color palette, 6 different styles look cohesive but you can still pick out each artist’s contribution and aesthetic.
6. Ave Maria by Mac & Retna
The scale of this mural is so impressive. It’s incredibly well done, and I love the nod to SLC’s Latinx population. This is one of my first memorable murals in SLC and it feels like it ushered in new era of murals in SLC.
7. You are Here by Chris Peterson
This is another work I love for its process. The artist included youth who live in Glendale in the design and implementation. The work shows the power of place, is colorful, and highlights where Glendale is in relation to the Jordan River, which is integral to SLC and our watershed.
8. The Book Wall Mural by Paul Heath
This work is iconic to SLC and included on most mural blogs. The viewers have to seek out this mural, and this adds an element of discovery and connects us in a special way to place. The scale is awesome and it’s just fun to see the titles and stories and makes us reflect on our own stories.
9. Too Young by Zach Franzoni located at Utah Arts Alliance (SLC Arts Hub)
I really like Zach Franzoni’s style. The colors, patterns, and feel of his work is very appealing to me and it doesn’t feel like anything else I’ve seen around SLC.
10. Squatters Pub Murals, multiple artists
Squatters is integral to our community and to SLC businesses. It’s so cool to see the collaboration between businesses and artists who are also integral and to see how that relationship can be celebrated through art. I love the different murals, styles, and the references to beer in all of them.
Murals provide people with a connection to the places they frequent, and make neighborhoods more welcoming and walkable. The collective nature of a public art project such as this creates a sense of ownership and identity for not only the artists, but also for the community. And now, more than ever, your community needs your support.
Which one speaks to you? Comment here with your favorite!