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The City Journals

Mural Fest is back with 10 fresh murals

Jun 07, 2021 01:02PM ● By Bill Hardesty

George Bank’s positive message mural at 131 E. 2100 South. (Bill Hardesty/City Journal)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]


In 2020, SSL only had the mural part of Mural Fest. They introduced six murals. In 2021, SSL brought the festival back to Mural Fest with a community celebration on May 15.

“We have over a thousand people. More than we were expecting,” Lesly Allen, executive director SSL Arts Council, said.

Mural Fest was held within the South Salt Lake’s Creative Industries Zone. This year the event ran along West Temple between 2100 South and Oakland Avenue. The event included food trucks at two locations and live music and entertainment at each mural site.

The Arts Council’s goal is to have 100 murals in 10 years. In their fourth year of Mural Fest, there are 34.

One attendee enthusiastically said, “We love seeing our neighborhood coming alive.”

The art

“I think people are happy to be out finally, but it is about the art,” Allen said. “Mural Fest is where art, business owners, and the community connect.”

In 2021, Mural Fest had 10 murals painted. Seven solo artists, two pairs of artists, and one group. One unique opportunity this year is that most of the artists were available to interact with onlookers.

“Many of the murals are about lessons we learned from the pandemic,” Allen said.

George Baker, an artist from Atlanta, painted a mural at Team Thirteen (131 E. 2100 South). He learned how to paint murals on YouTube.

“I wanted my mural to be filled with positive messages. So, when someone gets down, they can come here and read a message,” Baker said.

The Roots Art Kollective ([email protected]) painted their mural on Mr. Muffler (105 W. 2100 South). They solicited community involvement by asking for meaningful positive words. The words make up the background of the mural.  

Along with Luis Novoa and Miguel Galaz, Alan Ochoa said it took the three about 40 hours each to paint the mural.

In the middle of the mural is the earth encircled by the words “Sanacion a Madre Tierra” (meaning Healing Mother Earth).

Emily Ding, from Texas, painted two cougars at rest on the EMS building (2138 S. West Temple). Ding is known for color gradients in her work.

“I want to paint something bigger than myself,” Ding said.

She also said that the unwritten rule among mural artists and graffiti artists is that if you choose to paint over some art, it needs to be better than the original art.

Peter Jones, the owner of EMS, was excited to donate the wall and loved how it looks. Jones went beyond donating by providing support to Ding while in Salt Lake.

Joseph Toney, who paints murals and owns a fine art studio, had an exciting challenge. He painted on two sides at the Allergy Research Group’s building (2301 S. West Temple).

“You have to know the wall before you start,” Toney said.

Toney’s mural has large, red-crowned cranes on each side coming together at the corner of the building.

“Red-crowned cranes have such a beautiful mating dance. I’m trying to capture that beauty,” Toney said.

Other artist and the locations of their murals

Bill Louis

Clever Octopus

2250 South West Temple

Himed & Hokzyn

Ta’Contento

2280 South West Temple

Traci O’Very Covey

Mountainland Design

24 East Burton Avenue

Miles Toland

Tech Service Supply

2465 Soth West Temple

Brooklyn Ottens & Matt Monsoon

Bonwood Bowl

43 West Oakland Avenue

Hayley Barry

SSL City Hall

175 East Oakland Avenue


The Process

This year 153 applications were received. A jury of artists, Art Board members, staff, and business owners review the applications. The applications are scored on artistic excellence, professionalism, relevance, and technical competence.

The process begins in January when the Call for Artists is posted.