Downtown Provo is becoming an outdoor art museum, with murals dotting the blocks and adding color, shape and story to the buildings. The mural project has been ongoing for over two years and there are now over 30 giant pieces of art in the downtown area of the city.
Quinn Peterson, executive director of Downtown Provo, Inc., a nonprofit organization, said that while more and more people seem to shop online, there are some things that the Internet cannot replicate. “People go downtown for the environment and the feel of the area,” he said.
Part of what draws people to the Downtown Provo Historic District, which is composed of four blocks of Center Street and one and a half blocks of University Avenue, is the public art that can be viewed by just driving or walking through the neighborhood.
Over two years ago, Downtown Provo, Inc. began a monthly mural program. Local artists are matched up with local businesses whose owners want murals on their buildings. The artists and business owners collaborate and the artists create the designs and murals. A new mural has been popping up – after a lot of hard work – every month since then. “We pay for the supplies and the artists’ time,” Peterson said.
In addition to individuals who are going downtown to shop or eat, groups have been going to tour the murals and learn more about public art. “A number of years ago, Provo wouldn’t be a place to consider when thinking about public art,” Peterson said. “There are so many talented people here.”
Local artist Alex Vaughn has created three murals in the downtown area of Provo. “It’s surprising how much of a difference it can make to an area,” Vaughn said. “Some places seem neglected, but the finished mural can make the area more inviting.”
The first mural that Vaughn completed in Provo is at Maeser Park, 451 E. 600 South. The mural runs the entire length of the park and took her a summer to complete.
“While I’m painting, I feel like I get to know the community. I get to know people who walk by,” Vaughn said. She has also created murals on the Google Fiber building, 250 W. Center and behind Bombay House, 463 N. University Ave., where colors and shapes bring brightness to the area.
Provo resident and artist Ainsley Romero created her mural on the side of June Audio Recording Studios, 39 W. 200 North. Because it is on a recording studio building, Romero wanted the theme of the mural to be musical so she created caricatures of people playing different instruments and singing.
Romero, who teaches graphic design at Brigham Young University, designed the mural digitally first, then projected it on the wall to complete it. The creation took two weeks and many hours each day, with friends helping. “I’ve always wanted to do a mural,” Romero said. “I like the idea of the client being the city I live in. A mural is almost like a love letter to the city.”
The mural program has been very well-received by residents, artists, business owners and visitors to the area, according to Peterson. Initially, there were only going to be 12 murals, which would be painted over each year. But, so many people were excited about the art in the area, that the program expanded. The plans are to keep it going. For more information and to find a map to all of the murals, go to www.downtownprovo.com or check out @downtownprovo on Instagram.