New public-art project taking shape on Poison Creek Trail |

New public-art project taking shape on Poison Creek Trail

For years, University of Utah senior Danny Stephens walked Poison Creek Trail to and from work and felt the walls under the bridge near the City Park Skate Park lacked color.

So, he and four friends from his Art in the Community course decided to do something about it and began a new public-art installation.

Stephens and classmates Jessika Jeppson, Haley Jean and Miguel Galaz recruited 18 students from the Kimball Young Artist Academy to clean, prime and draw outlines of shapes on the walls.

In a few days, the public — both local residents and visitors — will be invited to add color to the shapes, Stephens said.

"We believe that everyone can be creative and everyone can be an artist," Stephens explained. "That way we could have a famous artist paint one triangle and a child paint another, no one could tell the difference between the two."

The Young Artists Academy (YAA) got involved after Stephens, a Park City resident, contacted the Kimball Art Center.

Recommended Stories For You

"We wanted to get involved with the community and get kids involved with the process and Amy MacDonald, education director for the Kimball Art Center, got us together with her students for the entire month of June," he said.

MacDonald thought the mural would be a wonderful initiation project for her 2015-16 students.

"I received a phone call from Danny one day and he told me he wanted to work with students who want to understand the community art-making process," MacDonald said. "I though this would be great because the students would get to know each other through this collaborative project and they would all start fresh."

She also felt the mural would be a nice way for her students to learn about the benefits of art education.

"Part of my goal is to also introduce these young artists the different ways they can use their creative skills in different professions other than art," she said. "This mural project, for all of those reasons, would be a wonderful way to start the year. It just fit."

Through the project, the students learn how to prepare a space for a public art installation, and also experience the different steps needed to do it legally.

"There is a difference between street art and vandalism and there is a process we have to go through for something like this," he said.

The first step was submitting a proposal to the city.

"We sent it into Jenny Diersen, who is the town’s events coordinator," Stephens said. "Then we had to defend our proposal with the local arts council and once they approved it, they took it to the city council."

Once the project was approved, Diersen, the former education director for the Kimball Art Center, referred Stephens to MacDonald.

"It worked out great for everyone," he said.

The mural is composed mostly of triangles, according to Stephens.

"Honestly, I have no idea where it came from," he said with a laugh. "I used to have all this graph paper when I was in seventh grade and remember drawing these triangles on my binders and have been doing that ever since. It was just an innate thing for me."

Facilitators will provide stencils and the spay paint on site, so passersby can leave their mark.

"We’ll also have a table with boards where people can practice so they can see how far they need to be from the wall in order for the paint to look good."

Stephens chose the paint to attract children to the project and the paints are supplied by Uprock, a clothing, skateboard and urban-art paint store in Salt Lake City.

"We’ve learned that kids love spray-painting and there’s an enthusiasm there that they don’t develop when painting with brushes," he said. "We want to get as many kids involved in art as we can."

That doesn’t mean grown-ups are banned from the project.

"It’s open to all," he said. "Poison Creek Trail runs through Park City, so we want the tunnel to be colorful and vibrant, just like the town," Stephens said. "Next week we’ll finish the outlines and we’ll start putting color on it the following Tuesday, We want everyone who do pass through to be able to leave their own splash of color on the mural."

The only set time Stephens or any of his fellow coordinators will be at the mural will be Sunday, July 19, during Park Silly Sunday Market from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

"The YAA kids will go to the market and get people to come paint the wall," Stephens said. "Other than that, we want the experience to be candid and spontaneous for everyone. So, we’ll just show up randomly throughout the next weeks to get people to paint."

Stephens believes the project will add something beautiful to Park City.

"I felt like it needed some color, because some of the other tunnels on the trail have something in them," he said. "I also think Park City is a culturally rich town, because the people who live here all come from different places and I wanted to do something that reflected that."