Four new public art exhibits recently have been installed around Salt Lake City, bringing some color to areas often ignored: an empty downtown lot, a vacant Fairpark motel, a blank Sugar House wall and a Liberty Park dumpster.
The Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City has commissioned 33 local artists to create 43 square art pieces, displayed in three prominent places in Salt Lake City through its new initiative “Art for Hope.”
• At 255 S. State St., a banner featuring pictures of different art pieces is wrapped around a fence shielding an empty lot.
• There are pieces on a fence wrap at 1500 W. North Temple, outside a vacated motel west of the Utah State Fairpark.
• At 2234 S. Highland Drive, in the Sugar House area, more art pieces are mounted against the blue wall of an unused building.
The art will be up through spring 2021.
“[The project] was a way to really try to give our community hope that we are going to make it through these times and we are going to make it through these times better than today,” said Amy Fowler, Salt Lake City councilwoman and RDA board chair.
Some of the pieces feature hopeful slogans like “united we stand” or imagery of Utah’s mountains. A few pieces honor doctors and other essential workers. Several have social justice themes, like the portrait of the late activist Ruby Jewell Timms Price at the North Temple exhibit. Fowler said she thinks racial justice is part of the hope people are reaching for now.
In a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune, RDA project manager Corinne Piazza said all the pieces for the exhibits were submitted electronically, for the safety of the artists. The city printed the art and installed it at sites where it can be easily spotted.
All of the exhibit sites are properties slated for redevelopment; the placement infuses public art into neighborhoods with vacant buildings, Piazza said.
Each artist was paid $1,000 for their contribution. Fowler said the project also was a way to help Salt Lake City’s artistic community, which has been hurt as many arts festivals and events have been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the featured artists is 23-year-old Anastasia Bolinder. Her piece, displayed at North Temple, is a drawing of a person holding a blue flame surrounded by the words, “I believe in your fire.”
Bolinder said she thinks everyone has a fire that drives them toward what they want to do in life. She said she wants people who see her art to feel like someone believes in them at a time when many people are separated from their friends and family.
“Being able to say ‘I believe in you’ is a big thing,” she said. “That’s what I want other people to have. If you have belief you can do [something], you can do anything.”
Bolinder said Art for Hope came at a good time for her, because several art events she planned on participating in this year were shut down because of the pandemic. She said she was able to make her piece for the exhibit in her own style, semi-realistic cartoon fantasy, rather than having to tailor her work to meet other people’s expectations.
A more unusual looking piece of artwork is on display at Liberty Park.
Momentum Recycling partnered with the city to have artist Josh Scheuerman hand paint a recycling drop-off dumpster with scenes from southern Utah. The dumpster, which was unveiled Nov. 18, will continue to function as a drop-off site.
Jason Utgaard, general manager of Momentum Recycling, said there have been issues in the past with graffiti artists tagging the dumpster, when it was blue and plain. He said he hopes taggers won’t do that now.
He said the project cost $1,700, but added that just repainting a dumpster blue generally costs about $1,000, because it must be sandblasted first. Momentum used recycled glass as an abrasive material to sandblast the dumpster for the art project.
Utgaard said he wants the project to remind people why recycling matters.
The imagery from nature shows “this is why we are doing it,” he said. “We have Delicate Arch and [other outdoor attractions] we get to enjoy while living here, and we get to do so because we take care of this place.”