Iron 8: The Mural
Project Start: April 1, 2017
Project Completion Goal: September 30, 2017
Description: Create a gigantic mural on the south face of the building at 150 South State Street
September 15, 2017: The Nature of Wisdom
Vexta kept working right up until it was time to go to the airport on Friday, Steven finally had to summon her down off the wall so that we would have time to get lunch at Fireside before she needed to head to the airport. Artists often can see how just "one more" stroke could make it that much better. But after 12 days on the wall (3 of which were complete busts due to weather and/or boom failures) the Flammulated Owl was finished, constellations drawn in. We hope you'll come check it out, this was our biggest (literally and resource wise) iron yet! And a little teaser:it's made us hungry for more...
September 13, 2017: Stop the Presses!
If you build it, they will come. Might be nice for movies...but in real life, the hustle is sales, and the winners are those who know that you must ABC. We didn't want to just build the largest mural in Utah and hope that people might notice. We were hopeful that people would hear about this new piece of art, and visit downtown SLC just to see it. That the conversation about street murals, street art, city culture, and the importance of private building owners stepping up to the plate could all be told. So, to get this strategy in action, we continued to promote via our social media, but we also reached out to traditional media through press releases. In total, we did three press releases: 1. with the aid of Christie Marcy out to her press list, 2. one in partnership with Downtown Alliance, sent from them to their press list, and 3. We did a paid PR Web article so that it would hit national press and get picked up by Google. Overall, the strategy was a fantastic success. We got live coverage from Fox13 news, and taped coverage by ABC4 and Park City TV. Salt Lake Magazine did an artist interview and took photographs, KRCL90.9fm did a live interview, and the Deseret News did a front page (above the fold) story with gorgeous photos in their Local section. All of that exposure drove people to our website and social media, and also drove people to come downtown and check it out. That positive energy is something that we can continue to harness for other creative projects.
September 6, 2017: Some thoughts on fundraising
The concept of trying to raise funds to support this project could have been an iron on its own. When we set out to do this project, we estimated 10's of thousands of dollars to get it done. There were a lot of unknowns and we wanted to be conservative. We won't publish the final budget here out of respect for the artist who was very generous with her time and consideration to do this commissioned work. But suffice it to say, it was not going to get done without cash, and a bunch of it. Paint costs money, so do gigantic boom lifts, and so do talented painters and artists. We approached many people in the community to get support. Starting with friends and philanthropists that we knew might like this kind of thing, and even some cold calls to people we didn't know at all. In the end, we were so fortunate to get the project fully funded. The primary funder was Andy Renfro. He provided all of the booms, and he also had a team of his three employees paint the wall black (which he also paid for). In addition to his funding, we received sponsorships from:
Richter7: They are an advertising agency who also call this building home. We had never met them before, and they were friendly and responsive to our request. We spent some time with them to educate them on the project, the artist's other work, and our needs, and ultimately they chose to chip and and make this project happen.
Eva Carlston Academy: This is a residential treatment center located in the Millcreek areas that specializes in arts and therapy. They even have a bird in their logo, so maybe not a stretch to sponsor a big owl in the middle of town. It helps that Steven is an owner in that business, his partner, Kristi Ragsdale stepped up to the plate when asked to help make this happen.
Rheda Fouad & Amy Leininger: This couple has a long history of supporting the arts in our town. Steven & Rheda serve on the UMOCA board together, and when we approached them about joining us on this project as our final partner, Rheda responded with great enthusiasm. Quote "I want to argue with you about why I shouldn't help fund this, but I just can't, it is too awesome." Rheda and Amy own several companies in town, including one of our personal favorites: The Ruin in Sugarhouse.
We literally could not have pulled this project off without these generous and visionary companies and individuals stepping up to make an investment in art for all of us. This type of private funding of public art can help to drive amazing things in a city. We hope that 10 more walls just like this one will pop up all over town!
September 1, 2017: I see a building and I want to paint it black
So how do you get a gigantic mural painted? You ignore logic and reason, you forget about how much it might cost, and you focus on a singular vision of success. It also helps to pick an artist that has experience with large surfaces, and that you have the support of an art-loving building owner who is willing to not only allow the project, but to support it! The first step in getting this project done was to get the wall painted black, and the ever amazing Andy Renfro had a team of three painters and two boom lifts out to accomplish just that. It took them three days to get it all done. And check out the results!
August 1, 2017: Vexta is coming
She has a ton of experience with large scale murals, and is ready to hang from a crane to paint a wall. Salt Lake City is at a really amazing point in history. Investment in art and culture is robust. The city just announced a major initiative (the Cultural Core) headed up by the Downtown Alliance to promote the various arts organizations and location in our town. We are trying to do our part, along with great support from the visionary Andy Renfro to add to that effort in the heart of the city. Coming to you soon...
July 15, 2017: Site Visit
We brought Vexta out from Brooklyn, NY to come take a look at the Impact Hub building and to see exactly what she (and we) are getting ourselves into. Building Owner, Andy Renfro, gave us the full tour including and most importantly, getting up on the roof and taking a look at how we can get access to this huge canvas. The challenge is that there is a pawn shop and smoke store south-adjacent to the building, so there is going to need to be some cranes involved (or serious rappelling) to get to all that space and get it painted. More on that later. In addition to the site visit, we wanted to give Vexta a chance to see the other fantastic street art that Salt Lake City has to offer, and we had gracious hosts in Dana Hernandez and Lia Summers.
June 15th: Nothing Happens without a Willing Leader
We finally got some face time with the building owner, Andy Renfro. Anyone who has worked with Andy will know that this is a developer who loves the aesthetic of history and art. We were very pleased to hear of his enthusiasm for this project and love for this building (which he leases to multiple tenants, including the Impact Hub.) Quite frankly, we would never be able to accomplish this project without both his consent and support!
May 5, 2017: Cinco de Mural-o
Painting a mural may not be as hard as picking what should go up there. The great thing about being a solo artist, is you really only answer to yourself. We are doing this as a collaboration though, and so at the very least, Joy, Steven and the building owner (art and design lover Andy Renfro) will have to support it. When Joy was recently in Melbourne (arguably the world capital of street art), she picked up a great book. There is a wide range of art in Melbourne, and this gave Steven/Joy a chance to try and find some common interest. Here are some of the images we picked:
May 3, 2017: Hey, I've got an idea
There have been two hallmarks of the "50 Irons" project. People who think this is some weird, mid-life crisis that Joy and Steven are going through, and those who's faces light up with a smile when they realize what we are trying to do, which is usually followed by "I've got an idea!" When we approached Dustin Haggett upon opening an office in Impact Hub, he was squarely in that group. In fact, he immediately asked: Would you like to put a mural on the side of my building? The answer is YES Dustin. Now we just have to figure out how to get that done...first step, meet with the landlord (Internet Properties)