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The City Journals

Photo Murals Project Just The Start

Aug 30, 2016 04:36PM ● By Travis Barton

: Six-by-eight murals were pasted on the sides of businesses in the area. –Orlando Rodriguez

The South Salt Lake Arts Council began their photo mural project in April, photographing creative minds in the South Salt Lake area. These life-size black and white portraits were wheat pasted on the sides of participating businesses, most belonging to the artisan displayed.
The council wanted this project to be able to feature these people in hopes that it creates awareness and builds relationships with artisans and artists who take pride in their work and want to share it with the community. Now with funding from Utah’s ZAP (Zoo, Arts and Parks) program, which helps small cities build their cultural or recreational organizations, this latest project is just a stepping stone for bigger things to come.
Lesly Allen, the director of the South Salt Lake Arts Council, spearheaded this project. She said she understands and has studied how public art such as this can engage communities through the arts and raise consciousness on contemporary issues.
“What we wanted to do was feature these artists and creative business owners so that people can become really aware of what the city has to offer. The project was a success because it created relationships and brought a lot of buzz to what we do here,” she said.
The project got its inspiration from French artist JR’s “Inside Out,” a global art initiative utilizing the same large black and white photographs of regular people all over the world. The council’s version of the coalition is naturally more centralized in artists.
In this case, a networking platform for artists in the Salt Lake area allowed to create excitement for the project in its early stages. This coalition meant Allen already knew many creative minds who would want to be featured. But apart from those already invested, these social events that take place also allowed to bring more of these creatives into the fray.
Among those featured are musicians, photographers, painters and dancers who all share a passion for artistic expression and content creation. This latest exhibition has helped the council’s continuing growth in scale and ideas.
It’s this enthusiasm that has sparked a second phase to the concept.
We want to keep this going, our phase two would be a traveling gallery,” Allen said.
Not only that, but the council hopes to receive proper funding for a festival based on the project slated for next summer. They’ve partnered with Fred Conlon, a local artist recognized nationwide for his one of a kind repurposed metal art.
In the next couple of months, we want to install handmade mailbox geocaches around the city,” Allen said.
What they are calling “robot mailboxes” will serve as a beacon for participants to find. They’ve enlisted five business in South Salt Lake as placeholders for these sculptures. With this latest project, the council continues to grow and hopes that residents become more engaged in what the city has to offer.
The council has launched a new website,, where people can find more information on these projects. They can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.