OGDEN — What were the massive blank walls on the city-owned parking structures along Grant Avenue in downtown Ogden are coming alive with color.
Artist Don Rimx has been at work since last week, filling the five 30-by-50-foot walls with art — his take on Ogden and the area. “It’s a reflection of what I see in the city,” he said, taking a break from painting.
One of the murals is done, the second is largely complete and three more empty walls will get his attention next. The completed and largely finished murals cover part of the west side of the parking garage along Grant Avenue just north of 23rd Street. The next three are to cover the now-blank walls on the garage structure south of that across 23rd Street.
“The purpose of this project is of course for downtown beautification and as a project that highlights the people of Ogden,” said Lorie Buckley, arts coordinator for the City of Ogden. The five murals, meant to add life to what is an otherwise monotonous stretch of concrete on the east side of Grant Avenue in the area, are to “follow a historical timeline of the people that lived here and/or things that helped to shape Ogden.”
The first, northernmost mural depicts the Utes, one of the indigenous tribes of what is now Utah. “A homage to them because they were the ones that were here first,” said the artist, whose given name is David Sepulveda, although he prefers to go by Don Rimx, his name as a graffiti artist from his days in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he grew up.
The second one depicts the immigrants and others who came to Ogden and Northern Utah and made their mark on the area, including Chinese railroad workers and Latinos. The third will have a railroad theme stemming from the significance of the area as the completion point for the transcontinental railroad. The fourth one touches on Western U.S. culture and the fifth will focus on local jazz legend Joe McQueen.
“All of them are related. It’s part of the history of Ogden, Utah,” said Sepulveda, now based out of Orlando, Florida. He started last week and has been working long hours from a scissor lift that can raise and lower him as needed along the walls. He’s getting help in the massive painting process by Pedro “Spear” Torres, a fellow artist who grew up with Sepulveda and is still based out of Puerto Rico.
“It’s a big project that I think will have a big impact in the city,” Torres said. The work should be done within a month or so.
Don Rimx was picked to handle the job after a national search that generated interest from more than 150 artists. The Ogden City Arts Advisory Committee reviewed the proposals and recommended him, with Mayor Mike Caldwell OK’ing the pick. The project has a $175,000 budget.
Sepulveda met with locals, arts officials and others in coming up with the ideas for the five murals. “I asked them what they would like to be reflected in the mural. I don’t want to impose myself,” he said.
A press release from Buckley’s office also noted the efforts in coming up with the ideas and designs for the murals. “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,” it reads.
Sepulveda will take part in a talk that’s focused on the Ogden project on at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Ogden Contemporary Arts, 455 25th St. It’s open to the public and will be moderated by Maria del Mar Gonzalez-Gonzalez, a Weber State University art professor who specializes in contemporary art from Latin America.
Sepulveda got his start in art at a young age. He’d paint graffiti and later expanded to more traditional art and graphic design work, attending an arts high school and getting more formal training at the Escuela de Artes Plasticas in Puerto Rico. His murals and other artwork reflect that mix of experiences.
“Upon finishing his studies, he dedicated himself to incorporating the various techniques of classic art into urban art, with a specialization in murals,” reads his online bio. His murals cover walls across the United States and around the world. More examples of Don Rimx’s work are on his website and Instagram page.