Located in Salt Lake City, The Shops at South Town completed an interior renovation in 2017, however, the exterior façade was left bare of improvements. With an extensive renovation completed by Gensler transforming the entire interior, the exterior was seen untouched: wedging a gap between the ‘Mountain meets Modern’ theme informing the center’s redesign. Inverting the insular shopping mall into an active community partner, the owner enlisted a creative team to envision the bare walls as an opportunity for creative placemaking. With limited ownership funds, the team enacted a creative solution to involve their local city council.
Envisioning exterior blank walls as an opportunity to cultivate the arts in their conservative community, the team garnered the city’s partnership to fund a public art program. The $85,000 contribution began what is now an ongoing city-funded arts initiative. Activating walls as art sites also created synergy between the center’s picturesque backdrop and the urban meets mountain theme permeating interior enhancements. Featuring three artists, the South Town Mural Project serves as a tangible touchpoint inspiring participation.
Boldly activating the center’s exterior and designating a walkable perimeter for visitors, the South Town Murals feature three artist commissions: a local artist selected through an open call and two international artists selected to collaborate. Spanning nearly 15,000 square feet, the South Town Murals form a lasting point of connection. The 4-walled murals created by UK-based INSA and LA-based Brendan Monroe appear to animate when viewed via the “GIF-ITI” iOS App– both referencing the recent affluence of the tech industry in the region and serving as an alluring tool continually encouraging social sharing. Through an open-call for artist submissions throughout the community, local artist Bill Louis was selected and awarded the commission to realize his dynamic abstract landscape embellished with overlays referencing his Polynesian heritage. Extending the spirit of the city and the subsequent arts beautification project, the South Town Murals pay homage to the natural environment through vibrant color and form and celebrate the burgeoning talents sparked within the landscape.