Salt Lake City, Utah, is known for a lot of things: Mormons, The Jazz, The Greatest Snow on Earth…but not really for street art. I honestly didn’t know too much about street art before I visited Germany in 2014, and quite frankly didn’t know that there were even places in Salt Lake City that could be considered “art.” During 2016 I was a driver for Lyft and found myself driving all over the Salt Lake Valley, discovering corners I didn’t know existed, quaint and quirky neighborhoods, and most importantly, stunning murals and explosions of color.
STREET ART VS GRAFFITI
For the sake of education, let’s take a quick pause and talk about the differences between street art and graffiti. Having grown up in Southern California, I’m no stranger to seeing graffiti covering walls, cars, billboards, freeway signs, train cars…basically anywhere that someone could claim bragging rights from tagging: the more dangerous the location, the greater the street cred. I don’t like it, but I understand it (I’m not here to judge – I’m here to admire). Any basic Google search will provide an interested party with a slew of articles from CNN, SFWeekly, The LA Times, and even Columbia University, proving their take on the differences between street art and graffiti. For the sake of time, I’ve compiled the articles down to a few key points to help you distinguish the differences for yourself. Again, these are generalities that I’ve compiled from the internet, free from personal bias.
WORD/IMAGE-BASED: As a general rule, street art is centered around an image. It tells a story, can often be abstract, and is often painted with mediums other than aerosol. Graffiti tends to be more word-based, is often hard to read, and is ever-changing. There is also the overlapping “Graffiti Art,” which is a combination of words and images.
INTENT: What is the intent behind the piece of art? Is it to tell a story, or to mark property/territory? Is it there to invite or scare others away?
PERMISSION: A lot of street art nowadays is commissioned by companies or individuals to bring focus and attention to a business or location. Street art can be created in broad daylight, and is often signed with the artists’ full name.
To be honest, I love street art. I dragged my friends all over Salt Lake City trying to capture some of my favorite locations on camera. There are so many different artists looking for that creative outlet, and I sure do hope that more beautiful murals pop up around town. Here are a few of my favorite locations to find street art in Salt Lake City…part 1!
#1: Crank Bike Shop
Now closed for good, the Crank Bike Shop in Downtown Salt Lake City at 749 S. State Street has got to be my #1 spot. The mural is so vibrant with bikes adorning the top of the building like stars on a Christmas tree. The mural was painted by Chris Peterson, and collaborated with Pat Clifford. I’ve driven by this place so many times, but it wasn’t until I actually started to stop and look around me that I noticed it. The mural is a direct representation of the grid-system layout of the Downtown Salt Lake City street map, complete with bike routes. I fell in love with the eye-catching color palate instantaneously!
#2: Gallenson’s Guns and Ammo
If you live in Salt Lake City and have driven around downtown, chances are you’ve seen the street art around Gallenson’s. It’s really hard to miss, no matter what your stance is regarding guns. The best part? If you find yourself behind the building, you’ll find a whole alley full of amazing street art!
While this location isn’t technically in Salt Lake City, it definitely is in Salt Lake County. It’s totally worth the drive out if you’d like to get some awesome solid color background shots! Just make sure to heed the signs regarding pictures and you’ll be good to go! My friend and I took the jaunt out here one Saturday and loved every second of it!
#4: The Sea Turtle
Isn’t it awesome when your friends know about cool things and places? I wouldn’t have found The Sea Turtle otherwise, that’s for sure. Located on the side of a building in the Fat Cats parking lot at 3739 South 900 East, Salt Lake City, UT, the local street artist known as SRIL (pronounced like surreal) was still working on the rest of the mural when I finally made it over. My friend used to live close to it, and was always talking about the mural. Of course we had to check it out!
There are so many murals, so many hidden gems, and so many more artists to discover in Salt Lake City’s street art scene. Stay tuned for another installment coming soon!