You can even get a free t-shirt when you see at least six of them.
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Walk past the Salt Lake Center for Science Education and you can’t help but notice the vibrant mural on one of its west-facing walls.
It represents a young girl with a butterfly floating above each of her open hands. Around her are images of books, corn, water and roses.
The creation of the work took about a week and is called “This is how we move,” said artist Jorge Arellano, and it is about the strength of the local community.
“[It] represents the people of the neighborhood, how they work together as a community, ”he said. “They move as one force.”
The Arellano mural is one of 10 created by various artists in honor of Salt Lake’s rich diversity, said Kaitlin Eskelson, President and CEO of Visit Salt Lake.
The nonprofit, which promotes Salt Lake as a convention and travel destination, has partnered with Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson and the Utah Arts Alliance on the project, called West of Conventional Mural Tour. (“West of Conventional” is Visit Salt Lake’s slogan, and Ekelson said he was referring to how “we are a city full of juxtapositions. We have the urban and the mountain, we have a very population. diverse. “)
With help from the Utah Arts Alliance, local artists were selected from the communities in which they painted, said Eskelson, who then helped them find significant sites for the artwork.
She said they chose to commission murals because they are accessible to everyone and can be interpreted in a variety of ways.
“I just think [these murals] tell our story, ”Ekelson said. “Everyone wants… to have a take out and an authentic experience. And I think that’s what the murals do.
She added that the public can participate in a free Wall Tour Pass opportunity by going to bit.ly/3AfxuPU, where they can register when they visit each mural. When they have stopped in front of six of the 10 paintings, they can claim a “West of Conventional” t-shirt at the Visitor Information Center at 90 S. West Temple in Salt Lake (inside the Salt Palace Convention Center ).
Telling community stories through art
Ekelson said he asked artists to use certain colors and geometric shapes to match Visit Salt Lake’s branding, but beyond that, they were free to tell the stories of their communities in any way. ‘they deemed appropriate.
For Arrellano, telling this story meant working with local schoolchildren, who asked neighborhood residents about what they wanted to see in the mural.
One of the most frequently mentioned topics was immigration, a personal topic in Arrellano, originally from Mexico. The butterflies in the mural were painted to represent immigration, he said.
Arrellano said he is sometimes asked if he prefers to do large paintings rather than small ones, but he thinks the size of a work is not important.
“[Art] is a way of expressing a point of view, an idea, a feeling, ”he said. “I think that’s art for me: something that brings a message and makes people think about what’s going on.
This is not the first time Arrellano has worked on a public art project. He also painted a mural inside a school, held student workshops, and was part of an art group for people of color called the Nopalera Artist Collective. His next project will be a mural in honor of a friend who died of COVID-19. (The location is on hold but will likely be somewhere in downtown Salt Lake, he said.) Fans can also follow his work on Instagram @stenciljam.
Arrellano said he would advise aspiring artists to be honest with themselves and express what they are feeling in the moment.
“It doesn’t matter if you draw inspiration from other artists, but don’t copy. Get your own style and try to portray things that touch people, ”he said.
Where to see the murals
The artists and their wall locations are as follows. Note that not all of the murals have been completed yet.
Jorge Arellano, Salt Lake Center for Science Education (1350 Goodwin Ave., Salt Lake City, UT 84116)
Chris Peterson, Hip & Humble (1043 E. 900 S., Salt Lake City, UT 84105)
Jimmi Toro, INDUSTRY (659 S. 500 W., Salt Lake City, UT 84104)
Gerry Swanson, Caputo’s Market & Deli (1516 S. 1500 E., Salt Lake City, UT 84105)
Bill Lous, Valley Fair Mall (3601 S. 2700 W., West Valley City, UT 84119)
Traci O’Very Covey, Mountain America Expo Center (9575 S. State St., Sandy, UT 84070)
Miriam Gutierrez, The Copper Mine Saloon (9071 West Main St., Magna, UT 84044)
Matt Monsoon, Brighton Resort (8302 S. Brighton Loop Road, Brighton, UT 84121)
Calvin L. Rampton, Salt Palace Convention Center (100 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101) – located on the wall connecting the Salt Palace and the new Hyatt Regency Convention Center.
Josh Scheuerman, Murray Theater (4961 S. State St., Murray, UT 84107)
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