Saturday, January 23, 2021

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Coloring Outside the Lines


The handwritten sign over James Bennion’s office at Harmons Bangerter Crossing reads “La Artista.” As he steps out, he’s immediately greeted by a coworker with a request: Can he make a sign for the cooking school? One with a life-size drawing of Julia Child?

Bennion is one of 10 chalk artists employed by Harmons Grocery, a Utah-based chain with nearly 20 locations. His job is simple, but vital to Harmons’ emphasis on local products: Add unique signs to accompany unique groceries. Each Harmons displays upwards of 800 signs.

Taylor Hellewell is Harmons Grocery Emigration Sign Artist

“We ‘re really able to make products stand out. The creativity is up to us, and the sky’s the limit,” says Bennion of Harmons’ artists. From the store’s second-floor cafe, Bennion points out the seafood section’s five-foot-long chalk image of a polar bear stalking fish. Like many of the hundreds of signs in any given Harmons, the polar bear creates a sense of unique place and demonstrates that signs go beyond  pricing and description.

“Food in itself has a world of depth and variety that a printed vinyl sign has a hard time expressing,” says Bob Harmon, Vice President for the Customer and Harmons co-owner. A sign with a photorealistic image of a product and machine-made lettering sometimes falls short, Harmon says. But a hand-drawn fisherman’s boat or a polar bear on seafood signs or something humorous for no apparent reason—a scene from Star Wars on a Caffe Ibis coffee display, add personality and attract eyes.

James Bennion

Chalk as a medium creates a sense of the temporary, connoting freshness. The signs, made with chalk markers on blackboard, average between two to four hours to complete. (The polar bear took two days.) “When you look at our signs, you can tell someone is delivering art personally, from themselves, to you. It means a lot,” Harmon says. The company’s first chalk artist was hired in 2008, and all artists are salaried employees with full benefits—a rarity in the art world.

“This type of expression feels more tangible and real, and offers more breadth and clarity,” Harmon says. “It also helps us differentiate ourselves from our competitors.”

Just hours after being sworn in, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for a review of the boundaries for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. The monuments—designated by Barack Obama in 2016 and Bill Clinton in 1996—were reduced by roughly 2 million acres by former president Donald Trump, and the executive order is seen as move towards restoring the original boundaries.⁠

Read the full story through the link in bio.⁠

📸Bears Ears National Monument: Courtesy of Utah Office of Tourism

What’s your favorite park in Utah? ...

Our Jan/Feb issue is out on stands now! This issue means so much to us. Made with lots of love and tears. We hope you’ll grab a copy and enjoy every moment of reading it. ❤️ ...

Here's one from our upcoming Jan/Feb issue out on stands in just a few days. We hope you’ll grab a copy and enjoy every moment of reading it.⁠

Mary photobombs Lisa Barlow at the premiere party for Real Housewives of Salt Lake. Below is a snippet from Mary's last editor's letter:⁠

"It’s all a little crazy.⁠
Sometime in 2020, the world stopped making sense for a lot of us. Between one of the ugliest election cycles the U.S. has ever been through and the most mysterious disease most of us have ever experienced, normal was canceled. We can’t get together with friends, hug our loved ones, be in the room with them when they die. But somehow we have to go on, right? Somehow we have to continue to work and love and laugh. This issue of Salt Lake magazine holds a lot of frivolity, the main one being an extremely silly TV show, The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. There I am in a pink fur coat in a car with our cover housewife, Lisa Barlow and her boys."⁠

Pick up our Jan/Feb issue at your local grocer and read the full letter. ❤️

Link in bio to subscribe.

We love you so much, Salt Lake ❤️⁠

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday. Be merry, be bright and be good for goodness sake! ✨

Skip the milk and cookies this holiday and leave out something that Santa really wants 🍺😉🎅⁠

Check out our local holiday beer round up for last minute gift ideas! Link in bio!

Mary's last-minute holiday gift ideas from last year are still as true and relevant today...⁠

"The planet we live with and the creatures on it need all kinds of things. Polar bears need presents, tree frogs in the Amazon need gifts, our Utah canyons and our national parks need help."⁠

Check the link in bio for full write up.

There was never a time there wasn’t Mary Malouf. Until now. Today, Mary died when a rogue wave swept her out to sea off the coast of Northern California. Only she – perhaps the world’s foremost lover of Bronte, BBC mysteries and, of course, Moby Dick – would appreciate such poetic drama.

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.” — Mary Brown Malouf. Ooops. Herman Mellville.