Jun 21, 2022 - News

Elaborate mural display could help revitalize Midvale's downtown

A mural is being painted on a building wall.
A mural approaches completion in Midvale. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

Nearly 20 new murals went up this weekend around downtown Midvale — the latest city to make an entire neighborhood into a giant gallery.

Why it matters: Midvale has big plans for its downtown — not on State Street— but on a short stretch of 700 West, where century-old buildings used to house one of the county's big shopping districts.

Context: The murals are the city's response to other dedicated public art neighborhoods in the county.

Details: The city and ALL CAPS art gallery commissioned 18 of them, which were painted Saturday at the Main Street Mural Festival.

  • If you compare the map of new murals in the city to maps of paintings elsewhere in the valley by art groups and other fans, Midvale’s downtown has one of the county's densest collections of public murals.
  • They depict everything from city landmarks and natural landscapes to fantasy scenes, abstract shapes and traditional patterns.
A mural of artistic patterns traditional to the Pacific Island is painted next to a door.
Kalani Tonga's mural in Midvale uses traditional Pacific Island patterns to convey themes of growth and strength. (Photo: Courtesy of Kalani Tonga)

Zoom in: Artist Kalani Tonga, who lives in Midvale, painted a nexus of patterns from Pacific island art, including a traditional turtle shell print that Utahns may see as a beehive — and that's OK, she said.

  • The patterns "represent growth and coming together and strength and just all of the things I hope for with the revitalization of downtown Midvale," Tonga told Axios. "I wanted it to contribute, in my way, to making that vision come to life."

Erin's thought bubble: Midvale's Main Street is a special window into life on the Wasatch Front before it became a continuous smear of strip malls.

  • Just don't spiff it up too much. The existing tattoo parlors and corner shops are crucial to the neighborhood's natural feel.
  • The city's planning documents call for support for businesses that are already there.

Tip: When you visit the murals, hit Tacos El Cuñado for a snack and grab a drink at Old Towne Tavern — the unassuming charmer among Salt Lake's classic bars.

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