OGDEN — Those traveling downtown via 25th Street in Ogden may have noticed a splash of color emerging at the intersection with Adams Avenue. It’s a sliver of art city organizers hope will eventually connect the Eccles Community Art Center to the library, and down 25th Street to Union Station, creating a mile-long arts corridor.
The work of art at Adams Ave. is the first step. It’s a mural by Bozeman, Montana-based artist Rachel Pohl, featuring the symbols that make Ogden unique, from its sweeping mountain landscape to it vibrant neon signs downtown.
The scenes cover a formerly graffiti-covered concrete retaining wall which is part of the historic, under-renovation Peery Apartments property. Funding for the mural comes from the Weber Arts Council.
“Their hope is this stretch will be cleaned up and turned into an artistic, well-lit place,” Pohl said. “It’s cool to think this is ultimately helping to make Ogden a safer place and a more colorful place.”
Pohl came to Ogden through a collaboration with AndShesDopeToo, an Ogden-based lifestyle, content creation and event coordinating company focused on female empowerment. AndShesDopeToo has organized volunteers, tracked down donated materials and provided housing so more of the grant goes to Pohl for her work instead of for materials.
“We’ve put in over 100 hours of work so far,” said Taylor Killian, who co-founded AndShesDopeToo with his wife, Jennifer. “There are people who have wanted to make this an art mile for years. This isn’t anything new, but we thought we have the ability to, perhaps, cause the excitement that we need to have it go over the top and finally happen.”
“My style isn’t for everyone, I’d say it’s very optimistic,” she said. “A lot of people appreciate more intellectual, edgy work. My message is always to create something that’s happy, inspiring and meaningful and trying to convey the feeling of ... what it’s like to be somewhere.”
The 25th Street mural starts with a waterfall and a stylized river flowing past Ben Lomond peak and its foothills. The mountains continue behind a cityscape with Ogden’s iconic art deco buildings, like city hall and Ogden High School, all topped with an Egyptian-style bird as a reference to Peery’s Egyptian Theater.
The painting wraps around a corner and includes a colorful Mount Ogden flanked by mountain goats. From there, Pohl plans to include another urban setting nestled among outdoor landmarks.
“Everyone has agreed that the landscapes around Ogden are cool, but they said ‘let’s include more of the railroad culture and more of what makes Ogden a little rougher and different than other places,’” she said. “So it will then go into night scene with a reflection of the Great Salt Lake, if you were in the mountains looking down.”
The mural will cover 900 square feet. Jake McIntire, an arts consultant for the city who volunteers as the unofficial project coordinator, said he’d like to continue the mural’s momentum, incorporating art along the entire block and beyond.
“This is the first of, hopefully, many projects that will be aimed at making the blocks from Washington (Boulevard) to ... Jefferson (Avenue) more beautiful,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a pipe dream, but also fairly likely to happen in the next little bit.”
“We’ll have video artists create videos we’ll project things on sides of buildings to bring more light and energy and activity to this area,” he said.
Diane Stern, who works for both Ogden City Arts and the Weber Arts Council, said she’d like to see light art installations create a sense of safety for the public, too.
“The idea is to bring eyes and interest into that neighborhood, which has some troubles,” she said. “Especially with that little motel behind the Ben Lomond Hotel, it feels really dicey.”
Stern said she asked the Ogden Police department to run a report of activities along the corridor. It didn’t produce many complaints.
“It’s not that the area is unsafe, but people don’t feel it’s safe,” she said. “So that is the goal, making it feel like an interesting art-forward kind of neighborhood.”
Stern said there’s already a lot of arts-based activity happening along the proposed art mile. At 26th Street and Jefferson Avenue there’s the Eccles Community Art Center, the headquarters of the Weber Arts Council, the Ogden Symphony Ballet Association and the Ogden Junior League.
The library just needs a link down 25th Street to downtown, and Pohl’s mural is the first step.
“We’ll also be working with AndShesDopeToo, they want to do pop up events there,” Stern said. “One of the things we’re really interested in doing is coordinating whatever we do with the city events that already happen, like the First Friday Art Stroll, the Ogden Arts Festival, and with different things that already exist so we don’t step on each other’s toes, but help each other thrive.”
Making the art mile a reality comes down to funding, and the Weber Arts Council is still looking for grants. In the meantime, those interested in being a part of Pohl’s mural can contact email@example.com for more information about volunteer opportunities and the unveiling party to come.
Pohl encourages community participation. “I want everyone to be able to say I painted that part, I helped with that,” she said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Taylor Killian’s name. We regret the error.