The Salt Lake City Arts Council’s Public Art Program, in collaboration with Salt Lake City Public Lands Department, is pleased to announce its latest public art project that will result in the creation of a permanent surface mural that will be integrated into the sports courts at Poplar Grove Park. After reviewing applications collected from the 2020-2022 Pre-Qualified Artist Pool, the Salt Lake City Art Design Board recommended Roots Art Kollective (the RAK) for this project and Mayor Mendenhall approved the commission. The designs shown below were part of the preliminary proposal submitted by the RAK to the Art Design Board; the final court design is currently being developed by the artists in concert with the Public Art Program, Public Lands Department, and the contracted landscape architect.
The RAK’s proposal stood out not just for its high-quality designs, but also for their keen interest in connecting to the community and creating something representative of and inspiring to the Poplar Grove neighborhood. Further community engagement will be led by the RAK as they progress with the project. The RAK explained, “Parks are an imperative component to the socialization and growth of a community. It can become the place where we form our first memories. It can be the moment where you bounce your first ball, or even play your first game of tennis. . . We wanted to reinforce the values and importance of growth, nature & our environment, pride for where we live, and lastly to tap into those memories that remind ourselves that we are kids at heart.”
The RAK are a local art collective composed of three Mexican-American artists: Miguel Galaz, Alan Ochoa, and Luis Novoa. The collective began painting community murals in 2015 in Salt Lake City. Their mission is to expand public art to create vibrant environments that allow people to learn about the cultures that enrich our communities. They have over eight years of painting murals and are known for their use of nature, patterns, and calligraphy in their bold and expressive work.
This project was funded through the Capital Improvement Program. Community members have increasingly expressed interest in more pickleball courts across the city as the sport is gaining popularity. The integration of a mural onto the surface of the renovated sports court will support better activation in the park, encourage play and curiosity, improve park safety, instill neighborhood and cultural pride, and inspire people to think critically about their environment.