SLC: Is there a muralist in the house?!

Ten years ago business owners called it graffiti, the artists were branded “vandals” and the city painted over it ASAP. (Remember in 2010 when Park City and and a Salt Lake advertising company erased Banksy masterpieces before the art community could react?)

Then, marketing professionals rebranded it “outdoor murals,” sanitized street art of any subversive or unsavory messages and you see it everywhere. The newest examples are the five-story-tall mural (largest in Utah!) on the Impact Hub building downtown that one critic described as “a florescent owl passing gas” and the curious decal of Hallmark motivational messages on the new Salt Lake County Attorney’s glass high rise.

Note: SLmag has always supported and delighted in street art and murals and, yes, even thoughtful graffiti. Our 2016 Best of the Beehive edition was illustrated with street murals and, truth be told, we even commissioned street art/marketing. (Feel free to hate it.)

But a new trend has emerged in putting huge murals on residential developments, mostly for marketing purposes. Apparently, the idea is you can forgo interesting architectural design if you put a pretty wrapper on it. But we all have to look at it and, depending on taste, some of us would rather bring back the downtown Hupmobile advertisement. So let’s be thoughtful.

Into the fray steps the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. UMOCA is working with Landforge Inc., a developer in the burgeoning Central Ninth District, to find an artist to put a 45-foot-by-20-foot mural on the Alinea Lofts to “add to the vibrancy” of the neighborhood.

The image at the top of this item is an architectural rendering of the project, but it gives an applicant an idea of how low the developer appears to have set the bar.

UMOCA has put out a call for artists with experience creating large-scale murals. The goal is for the mural to be completed by May 2018.

There’s no fee to enter and two of the three artists asked to submit a proposal will receive a $300 stipend for their time developing their mural concept. The winning artist will get $10,000, plus $1,500 in materials.

The deadine is the end of the month. For more information, contact Jared Steffensen at 801-328-4201 ext. 122 or

Glen Warchol
Glen Warchol
The late, great Glen Warchol passed away in 2018. His last billet was on the editorial staff here at Salt Lake magazine but his storied career included stops at The Salt Lake Tribune, The Desert News, The New Times and others. His stories haunt this website like ghosts in a machine and we're always happy to see them. RIP Papa Warchol.

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