OGDEN — More color and movement are coming to downtown Ogden.
The First Friday Art Stroll for June will be fully live and in-person for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced much of the monthly event online due to restrictions on movement to limit the spread of the virus.
“People are excited to get out again,” said Regina Esparza of Ogden Arts, Culture and Events, the city department that helps organize the event.
Activities go from 6-9 p.m. at galleries and other locales scattered around the city center, many along Historic 25th Street. 5spadez will perform music at the corner of 25th Street and Grant Avenue. Simultaneously to the art stroll, the Ogden Downtown Alliance on Friday will present “Looking Forward,” a pop-up mural exhibit at varied locations featuring artwork inspired by the pandemic.
Last November, the alliance sponsored a magazine and mural project called “These Are Your Stories,” showcasing the sentiments people faced as the pandemic was at its worse, translated into visual artwork. As the pandemic eases, “Looking Forward” aims to highlight “the resiliency of Ogden” and lessons learned from the pandemic. The nine new murals from “Looking Forward” plus the five from last year will be on display on Friday, and spoken word presentations and stories in American sign language will be offered at some of the locations.
The presentations represent “an exciting shift back to the downtown realm, and we are very much looking forward to that ourselves,” said Kim Bowsher, executive director of the Ogden Downtown Alliance.
Friday’s resumption of in-person art stroll activities reflects the continued easing of COVID-19 restrictions that had put a halt to many cultural and recreational activities last year. Farmers Market Ogden reopened in its original format on May 22 after last year’s scaled-back version. Likewise, events like the Ogden Twilight summer music series and the many summer festivals held in cities around Weber County will be back. The Ogden Arts Festival is set for June 12-13.
Some art stroll activities had been in-person, but most of the action during the pandemic was held virtually, online. Now with the resumption of a more robust in-person lineup of activities, the Ogden arts scene gets a more pronounced spotlight.
“It’s a good way for people to come out and check out what’s going on in the Ogden art scene,” Esparza said.
Maps indicating the locations of art stroll displays are available online at ogdencity.com/771/Current-Stroll-Information. The locations include several galleries along Historic 25th Street, the Eccles Community Art Center at 2580 Jefferson Ave., the Local Artisan Collective at 2371 Kiesel Ave., The Monarch at 455 25th St., Union Station at 2501 Wall Ave. and Wasatch Roasting Co. at 2436 Grant Ave.
Murals that are part of the “Looking Forward” project will be on display Friday on Historic 25th Street, the Junction Plaza, Lester Park east of the Main Library and along the Ogden River Parkway at High Adventure Park. More details are on the Ogden Downtown Alliance Facebook page, facebook.com/ogdendowntown. The murals will also be on display during the Ogden Arts Festival.
In related news, an artist has been picked to complete a series of large murals on the expansive walls of the city-owned parking structure along Grant Avenue in the city center. David “Don Rimx” Sepulveda, now living in Florida, was picked from a national field of artists by city officials to handle the $175,00 project.
“Don has spent dozens of hours immersing himself in Ogden culture, meeting various groups with diverse outlooks on what it means to be an ‘Ogdenite’ while exploring ideas for what will become one of Ogden’s most iconic public art pieces,” the city said in a statement.
Aims of the effort are downtown beautification and to highlight the people of Ogden, said Lorie Buckley, arts coordinator for Ogden Arts, Culture and Events.