Mural Fest 2021 Brings Healing, Fosters Sense of Community

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Artist George F. Baker III poses with his mural at Mural Fest 2021. (Photo by Luke Jackson | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Luke Jackson, Arts Writer

 

The sun smiled fondly on Salt Lake City as 10 artists from around the country proudly stood surveying their work. They beamed as the members of the Salt Lake community gathered around their murals, in absolute awe of the artworks’ size and beauty.

The walls of buildings on West Temple between 2100 S and Oakland Ave are home to Salt Lake’s Mural Fest 2021. Each year, hundreds of artists apply to have their work featured, but only a few are chosen. Behind the artists is the South Salt Lake Arts Council and the Utah Arts Alliance. They work closely with the artists and the building owners to ensure both parties’ interests and passions are boldly shown on their buildings to bring color, community and warmth to what would otherwise be a drab, cold and industrial area.

Creating Community

In a year where the warmth of community seemed miles away, it is unsurprising that many of the artists were inspired to create art that deals with themes of healing, togetherness and love. Seeing these themes presented in a larger-than-life fashion is truly a beautiful and profound experience.

I had the opportunity to speak with five of the ten artists featured in this year’s festival. While each brought their own personal flair and charm to the scene, it was George F. Baker III who truly encapsulated the feeling of community Mural Fest brought.

When I first saw him, George stood at the far corner of his piece with an intoxicating grin. Vibrant purples, pinks, yellows and blues exploded off the building. Smiling characters share anecdotes in large, white font: “be who you want to be!” and “life is a dance / make your move.” This beautiful mural was started and completed in only eight days and gave off contagious energy.

When asked about his inspiration for the piece, George said, “Mainly I was inspired by what happens when you have a community of people around you. Always giving you good ideas, good things and good messages.” George also made it very clear that this mural was for people who felt alone; he wanted them to know that no matter what, they would always have a community right there on his wall.

I only had a few moments with George before he was whisked away by others, wanting to bask in his energy. However short my time with him was, I felt that he eloquently summarized the feeling that each mural artist this year was striving to create.

Healing Through Art

As the return to life as we once knew it is on the horizon, I couldn’t think of a better way to usher in this long-awaited reunion than Mural Fest. Surrounded by smiling faces, I eagerly took in the sights of a community beginning to heal together. While these murals may fade as time passes, the vibrant feelings they emit will no doubt stand the test of time.

If you and your loved ones have about an hour, I encourage you to walk the route provided here. Take in the sights of the murals and allow their messages and healing to warmly embrace you. While the artists may be gone, no doubt working on their next masterpiece, their work and passion are alive and thriving on these walls. Trust me, it’s well worth checking out.

 

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