Recognizing SLC’s Public Art Gems


Growing up in a small farm town in South Dakota, where there was not a vibrant art scene, I was awed by the volume of art populating Salt Lake. The city is so full of art it is hard to keep track of it all. Apparently even Utah natives agree, because the Salt Lake City Public Art Program recently designed an online map to point out some of the great works of art in and around Salt Lake.

The website maps out 124 pieces of art, so there are plenty of routes to choose from. Art enthusiasts can visit murals on buildings, sculptures on street corners and paintings on the ground. I decided to use the map to visit some of these places and find Salt Lake City’s hidden art gems. But what really surprised me was that although I set out to find one of the specific art pieces listed on the website, I ended up discovering even more art nearby or on the way.

My first stop on my art walk was at the Anderson-Foothill Library on 1135 S. and 2100 E. Next to the library stands a sculpture titled “Children of Light,” made with stainless steel. “Children of Light” portrays three children with backs toward each other, holding lights forward. This sculpture is a symbol of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, “representing the youth of the world and hope for the future,” according to the plaque set outside the sculpture.

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The next art stop took me to Liberty Park on 600 E. and 900 S. Liberty Park is one of my favorite places in Salt Lake, and I was excited to discover artwork there. It was a peaceful autumn afternoon, and the pond at the park mirrored the colorful trees. On the north side of the park, I found a sculpture called “The Doll and Dare.” It portrays three children playing on top of pillars, and it fits nicely with the playground in the background.

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After “The Doll and Dare,” I went searching for another sculpture called “Through the Shelter of Love.” It is located on 200 S. Main St, but I had a bit of difficulty finding it. While I was looking for it I found other cool, inventive pieces of art. I also found other pieces located on the Salt Lake Public Art Program’s map, including Citywalk Site Design 30, which consists of 30 ceramic tiles with cast bronze collars pressed into the sidewalk. Each tile is unique — their colors and shapes will make you pause to take a second look. This site has now become one of my favorite pieces of artwork in Salt Lake City.

I kept walking until I found “Through the Shelter of Love,” a sweet sculpture depicting a man and woman holding arms, with children running through. Right behind the cast bronze statue was a poem engraved on a wall. This was also on the map, and it was exciting to see these three places so close together.

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There was one last stop I wanted to make, and that was right behind the Gateway Mall on 500 W., called “500 West Park Block”. The block is in the middle of two streets and contains green grass and benches where you can sit and contemplate the sculptures. Being a “Wizard of Oz” fan, I immediately noticed the swirling sidewalk amidst the grass. It is a perfect place to end your tour and rest your feet.

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My art walk through Salt Lake gave me a new perspective on the art I miss every day as I make my way around the city. I learned to recognize artists’ talents and the effort put into making Salt Lake beautiful. This art is often overlooked, and the Salt Lake City Public art program is a great tool for discovering these hidden gems.

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