OGDEN -- Ben Lomond High School art students Shayla Evans and Lina Tomasevic are painting a mural for their first public art show.
The venue: a bus stop.
Evans, 16, and Tomasevic, 18, have been working on a small mural that, once finished and sealed, will hang in the Utah Transit Authority bus shelter on Adams Avenue by the Pleasant Valley Library.
"It's hard," said Tomasevic, currently living in West Point. "Every week we are painting white over something we did the week before."
Erica Lyons, the girls' art teacher, was searching for ways to augment a tight budget and learned about the UTA Art in Transit program. If UTA accepts a proposal, it provides the plywood base, primer, and 12 quarts of paint in white, black, green, red, purple, yellow, orange, brown, blue and teal.
"They send you all the supplies and a board you paint on, and they pick it up and take it to the site," Lyons said. "There is no expense, and it also gets students' creative work out in the community."
Once accepted, Lyons picked two of her most advanced artists and set Evans and Tomasevic to work painting mountains, a cityscape, and, as suggested, a representation of public transportation. The teens are painting a FrontRunner train into the foreground.
"Colors are the hardest part for me," said Ogden resident Evans, touching up a warm yellow building penciled into the scene. "I like black and white, and deep colors. We tried it with blacks and grays, but we messed it up so bad, we had to paint over it."
Halfway through their one-month timetable, the background mountains are nearly complete. The rocky peaks depicted come from their imaginations and are not modeled after the mountains of Evans' native Ogden or those of Tomasevic's native Montenegro. Part of Serbia until 2006, Montenegro is in southeast Europe. Tomasevic is an exchange student from the tiny country, about 15 of which could squeeze inside Utah's borders.
Tomasevic dreams of a big-city life working as a diplomat for her country. She came to Ben Lomond High from the DaVinci Academy so she could take French classes, she said. Her native language, Montenegrin, is similar to Serbian but with a different accent.
Evans plans an artist's life, using not brushes, but needles.
"I want to be a tattoo artist," she said. "I've been into it since the fifth grade, when my parents got tattoos. But my parents won't let me get a tattoo until I am 18."
Despite any background differences, the mural project has turned Evans and Tomasevic into friends. Evans sat alone until Tomasevic transferred to Ben Lomond, and Lyons put the new student at the desk next to Evans.
And when both were chosen to collaborate on the UTA mural, they moved to a small side room with space for their colors and "canvas."
"We talk more in here," Tomasevic said. "When it's class, you can't really talk as much."
When the mural is complete, Lyons will help the girls apply sealer to protect the work from accidental damage or from graffiti. Kent Jorgenson, who manages UTA's statewide mural project for Weber, Davis and Box Elder counties, said that when the art project started two years ago, organizers feared the murals would be defaced.
"We've had no vandalism, and we're pleased about that," Jorgenson said. "I think people respect the murals."
Jorgenson said three murals are currently placed in his area and three more, including the Ben Lomond High piece, are in the works. Some are by professional artists, others by talented amateurs. UTA's bus stop mural program is modeled after similar projects around the nation.
"It makes it more interesting to have art pieces in the community," Jorgenson said. "We really want to take care of our customers, not only with their transportation needs, but in providing them with safe, appealing bus shelters. The art helps accommodate those needs."
Tomasevic said she's excited to be part of the project and plans to see the mural, which should be installed in late spring, Jorgenson said. Tomasevic returns home in June.
"I will go see it for sure," Tomasevic said, excitedly. "I will take pictures to take home."
But Evans is not yet sold on seeing her future bus stop gallery.
"I like art, but I have a fear of public transit," she said, shuddering. "I don't know why. It just freaks me out."