As part of Mural Fest 2020 during the month of June—six new murals—created by seven different artists were completed in South Salt Lake’s Creative Industries Zone. In its third year, Mural Fest celebrates Utah’s creative community and features artists from Utah and across the country bringing an exciting vibe to the streets of South Salt Lake. For those of you who can’t, we wanted to share a beside the artist streetside view to gain an added appreciation for the start-to-finish mural process—which is part of the beauty of it. 

By meeting up with artists while working on their projects, we learned about their methods and the myriad of challenges they take on. Structural issues, like its size and the wall surface, and outdoor conditions, like the heat, wind, and rain. Can you imagine spray painting during high winds? Or better yet, standing in the sweltering heat for hours on end to fill in details on a large scale side of a building? It puts perspective on the work, craft, and hardships each mural artist takes on while presenting something unique, colorful and even thought-provoking—and one that all of us can benefit from.

Alex Johnstone—Level Crossing Brewing Company

On the north wall of Level Crossing on 2496 West Temple, mural artist Alex Johnstone relayed how his original mural concept has changed from the original plans due to the wishes of the business owners. Alex explains, “After some back and forth with Mark Medura who owns Level Crossing we came up with a different concept that’s more in line with what he is looking for.” The new design carries a similar theme to that of the sunset mural inside the brewery, but in this is a large glass, and instead of containing an amber-colored beer, it appears to be filled with a continual flow of the molten, almost liquid metal-type futuristic medium. 

Michael Kirby—South Salt Lake Fire Station 41

With his kids finally approaching ages for travel and exploration, artist Michael Kirby thought to apply as a mural artist for South Salt Lake as an adventure for his family. After being accepted, the coronavirus abruptly shifted their plans, and now Michael is flying solo from Baltimore to complete his project on the SSL Fire Station 41 building on Main Street. For his design, Michael will be interacting to gain insights from the crew and add in some from their stories. This isn’t his first firehouse mural either, with three under his belt in Baltimore, including a firefighter museum. 

With only a week to complete the project, Michael takes an old school approach when it comes to his artistry, sketching from hand, and as a resource likes to browse through real books at actual libraries. He avoids the use of digital illustration tools and doesn’t rely on the use of a projector. Mike shares that, “Everyone has creativity and art is very simple, anyone can do it, but then again, not everybody can.” He continues, “That skilled by-hand approach is still very important, you might not see it in the final product, but many can realize the guys who know how to draw and the guys that don’t.”  

Isaac Hastings & Evan Jed Memmott—Clever Octopus

This team of local artists, Isaac and Evan Jed collaborated both of their styles to create the almost and cosmic Aztec bright background with a pink and blue water buffalo in the center. It’s an incredibly bright and wonderful addition to the new to South Salt Lake business Clever Octopus on 2250 S West Temple, a creative reuse center.

Traci O’Very Covey—Mountainland Design

With denim apron speckled with paint and sun hat on, Traci O’Very Covey is currently adding onto her existing mural on Burton Avenue, 2360 S. Main Street. Traci is a local that is well known for many extraordinary murals and metal sculptures around SLC. The mural follows an abstract yet recognizable theme of rolling hills, friendly faces, homes, trees, and open skies with floating fruit. As another most exciting new project, Traci was chosen from over 400 artists to complete a 140-foot interior mural in the new SL Internation Airport expansion to be completed by the end of the summer.

Chris Peterson

His passion for fishing, the environment, and getting people to stop and think are some of the many reasons Chris chose to paint a mural which is nature-specific. As a Utah native and father to four daughters, he chose a more feminine, rainbow sherbet ice cream palette to create the ginormous open-mouthed brown trout racing after to swallow the frog. The new 140-foot long mural is along the north wall of the Cordin Building building on 2460 S Main Street, and to keep with the business theme, a circuit board will be added to its backdrop.

Veronica Zak—Hi-Grade Apartments

In coming up with a design for the HI Grade Apartment complex on 2150 S W Temple, Veronica Zac explains, “The thing a lot of people might not realize about being an artist for a living is that you’re not usually painting or designing things for yourself. You’re doing your best to come up with something that your client wants or that matches a brand aesthetic or fits a space well.” In this case, Veronica chose to go with a complementary Utah scene of the red rocks since the other mural depicted a mountain landscape. She explains, “I figured this would make both murals work together as a representation of the diverse landscape of Utah as a whole.”