Skip to main content

West Valley City Journal

Community-Made Mural Beautifies West View Park

Aug 30, 2016 03:25PM ● By Travis Barton

Local artist Roger Whiting, along with West Valley City interns and kids, painted a mural along a blank wall at West View Park. –Travis Barton

To any artist, a blank space is a canvas waiting to be painted. For the new mural at West View Park, it was the city interns who first imagined a mural there.
July 28 marked the unveiling of a mural along one of the West View Park walls at 4100 South 6000 West. West Valley City collaborated with local artist Roger Whiting and the Salt Lake County Youth Programs to create a work of art for the city.
“I hope it brings a sense of pride to the community,” Whiting said.
West Valley City hired three interns, masters of public administration students from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, to take on special projects that would be interesting to the city. Among those projects was a mural at West View Park.
“[It started] just to make a fun, colorful thing to connect the neighborhood with that wall and the rest of West Valley,” Todd Andersen, management analyst intern, said.
The mural starts from the left displaying the planets in space before gradually focusing in on where the park is located on a map. Andersen, a MPA student from University of Utah, said he was inspired by the mats that looked like cities he used to play on as a kid.
“I thought that idea would associate it with West Valley—so basically like a fun cartoon map,” Andersen said.
Andersen, along with the other interns Romauld Rambikarison and Moses Cissoko, approached Whiting in early June about the project. Whiting, founder of the nonprofit organization Community Arts of Utah, is known for his work with youth programs and Andersen said they wanted that type of community connection.
“It was better to get the community involved so they had a stake in their own city and neighborhood,” Andersen said.
Whiting said he loves that he made a career out of community work and was happy to participate.
“It’s what I love doing…to be doing something that brings joy to kids, brings joy to me and makes communities look more beautiful,” Whiting said.
About 15 kids from the Salt Lake County Youth Program helped with the design and painting of the mural which includes a “seek and find” activity where tiny painted objects are hidden throughout the mural. It was an idea the kids loved.
“Most of the kids have never been involved in something like this before so it was pretty fun for them,” Solo Tuiaki said. Tuiaki is the teen counselor from the Salt Lake County Housing Authority who supervised and painted with the kids.
“[The kids] just had the best attitudes about the whole thing—always looking to do more—and they were really excited about the seek and find part,” Lyndzie Nielson, Whiting’s art assistant, said. Nielson moved back to Salt Lake County from St. George to help Whiting with some summer-long art projects.
The interns’ other projects are scheduled to be completed Aug. 18.
Rambikarison’s project will be nine panels of mosaic art along the TRAX green line on 2700 West, also done by Whiting and Nielson, while Cissoko’s project will see stenciled path markers laid out for students at four different elementary schools. The path markers will highlight the mascots of each school.
Andersen said he hopes the $1,500 mural, paid for by the city administration budget, can be something the community rallies around as its already started with city officials.
The interns and their supervisor, Andrew Wallentine, were quick to credit the support they received from the city manager and the city council.
“It’s awesome to have an administration that cares enough to do small projects like this to make the city a better place,” Wallentine said.
Rambikarison, a native of Madagascar, said people have the idea that West Valley is a sketchy city and their projects were aimed to beautify the city.
Whiting said it’s ideas like these that people remember.
“When you think about where you grew up the things that stand out to you aren’t the supermarkets or the Home Depot…it’s the things that are completely unique to the community,” Whiting said. “And since this is one of kind, it belongs to [the community].”