Art is a pathway to the human spirit. It has the power to inspire emotions, teach concepts, motivate change, challenge perspectives, question beliefs, deepen understanding, and more. It can bring special moments to remembrance and form new unforgettable memories.
Art in public places has that same power and is accessible to everyone. Like artwork in a home, public art enhances a community’s beauty and charm and illustrates personality and value. Public art is just plain fun and adds some extra to the ordinary.
There’s nothing plain or ordinary about Heber Valley. Our canvas is already painted with beautiful landscapes and portraits of character which are uniquely framed with rich history. Heber City’s Community Alliance of Main Street (CAMS) formed an Arts in Public Places Committee to explore options that would enhance the downtown area. CAMS, Heber City, and the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce have partnered together for a project called the “Downtown Mural Initiative.”
The “Downtown Mural Initiative” will bring 6-12 murals over the next 3-5 years to Heber’s Historic Downtown. The initiative is well underway, with the first mural slated for completion by the end of summer. The mural is located on the North wall of the Visitor’s Center. The Arts in Public Places Committee is already working on selecting artists for the next few locations. Cities throughout the country, including Utah’s Moab, Salt Lake, and St. George, have added their municipal personal touches.
The committee studied some of these cities to sketch their approach and vision for such an investment for the community. Nicole Ferguson, Head of the Arts in Public Places Committee, is very excited, “We had some really deep discussions on where Heber is and was and where it is going, so we did a lot of studying because we didn’t want the town to look hodge-podge. We really want to unify the town and bring it together. We don’t want the town to look messy at all.” Blending history with the future is an art worth mastering, and the committee is dedicated to doing that. According to Ferguson, the downtown district will be a “hub for where we were,” and they’re hoping to have artwork that will be “more modern on the outskirts.”
Nicole expresses, “We’re hoping that murals really take off, but we’re also wanting to put some statues and some other pieces of art throughout Main Street and the valley. It really brings a nice feel to our community and a place where people want to stop and linger. We feel like the artwork gives a good taste of the valley, and it’s something that people love to look at and talk about,” Ferguson illustrates.
Something To Talk About
The initiative’s debut will set the tone for the rest of the murals, so selecting just the right artist was crucial.
Out of nearly 20 applicants, Heber Valley native Jason Quinn was given the honor of painting the first mural. Quinn already has murals in Rocky Mountain Middle School and Wasatch High School. He has an outside mural in Mount Pleasant, Utah, on a National Guard Armory. The life-like war memorial painting looks like the military statues could literally jump off the wall and start marching. For Heber, he’s created a masterpiece of motion showcasing the multi-seasonal recreational palette found in this beautiful valley, including fly-fishing, kiteboarding, mountain biking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and ballooning. He utilized the whole space and captured the beauty of what nature has to offer here.
Anyone living here or visiting can have fun with the larger than life motif. Everyone has a fishing story, a biking or skiing tale, or loves seeing a hot air balloon or two color a majestic morning sky.
Quinn elaborates, “It’s only been my opinion that good old-fashioned American illustration style appeals to broader [audiences]. The message is clearer, and that’s what we want, for everybody to look at it and know exactly what it means. You can’t come into the valley and not know that this is Heber Valley and Heber wants you to know first of all this is who we are. It’s the first of many, all of them are going to be different. By the time they’ve developed all of them, it’s going to offer a really neat kind of art walk throughout the city to take them all in. And, hopefully, every single one is worth slowing down and taking a look at.”
Ferguson offers a final brushstroke, “There’s a reason to be excited and proud to live in the Heber Valley. There are people that are working really hard at making our town beautiful and something that they can be proud of. It’s something to get involved in. Find a passion in Heber, and be a part of it, get involved. I think that this art is really going to set a spark under Heber and show the people that we are something special, and you can be proud to live here.”
The ordinary space of the Visitor’s Center north wall is now an extraordinary place, and it will be exciting to see what other spaces are brought to life in the next few years.
If you are interested in submitting artwork or being part of CAMS contact hebercitycams.org.
This summer, my family and I had a blast experiencing a wide range of public art in Le Mars, Iowa, a quaint little mid-west town dubbed the ice-cream capital of the world. (It’s home to Wells Enterprises, one of the biggest ice-cream manufacturers in the country). While visiting family in Omaha, Nebraska, we ventured two hours north for a day full of adventure. We had fun finding different themed ice-cream cone statues throughout the town. But, it was their “Alley Art” that provided the most entertainment. We “painted the town” by driving and walking in search of the many murals painted in the last seven years. It was fun to see where and what was on the buildings and admire the work and snap lots of photos. And, of course, we couldn’t leave without getting a creamy treat at the Blue Bunny Ice-cream Parlor. I’m excited about what Heber has to look forward to with its public art displays.