Murals, Icons, and Alleys

Trent Call has been leaving his mark on buildings for the past few years in Salt Lake City.  Tracking these murals down took me down a rabbit hole.  I ended up behind buildings, through alleyways and courtyards, and past some architectural gems.   I emerged in neighborhoods of Salt Lake City I hadn’t seen before, and took in vistas of familiar buildings from fresh angles.  I also passed by some religious icons hiding in plain sight, though the route circumvented the Mormon temple at the heart of downtown.  I must admit getting lost in another decade as well.  It was as good an excuse as any to explore corners of downtown, the west side, and the north end.

Start at his black-white-and-red Through the Looking Glass at #40 Broadway, which is painted on the facade of the long-shuttered Yardstick.
















Many of us still see the Yardstick like this in our minds’ eye — and long for the bolts of yardage that crammed this old-fashioned shop with color and texture piled high against the walls.  If you wanted to touch the fabric, you had to ask the matronly clerks to teeter up ladders to retrieve it for you.  As a result, you never requested recklessly.

Now that the downtown reconstruction is largely finished, I’m hoping that more locally-owned, unique businesses will return to downtown.  In the meantime, Alice does battle in paint on the boarded-up facade.








Now head east and follow the map at the bottom of this article.  Enter the parking lot behind Stoneground Pizza.  There is a small mural on a container in back, celebrating Stoneground’s 10-year anniversary.  On the ground floor of this building, the Salt Lake Roasting Company opened its first location about 30 years ago, bringing real coffee to Salt Lake for the first time.














As you head out the driveway, notice how the narrow alley creates a “viewfinder” of the swoop of the Salt Lake Public Library.  Now go to the corner of Second South.  This isn’t one of Call’s murals, but it’s worth looking at before you dive down behind the Guthrie Building.














This mural on the east side of the Guthrie was painted by El Mac and Retna in 2010.  According to an article in The Salt Lake Tribune (February 2010) the mural was commissioned by Corey Bullough, of FICE boutique in the Guthrie building, who felt that there was a dearth of feminine icons represented in Salt Lake City.  Now go down the alley beneath the mural into the parking area behind the Guthrie, #158 East Second South.














There is usually a bunch of rubble from the artists in the Guthrie obscuring this mural, so this rare view is stolen from Call’s website:  There are a couple other murals in the cramped parking lot.  If you have time, it’s worth walking upstairs in the Guthrie Building.  The Goddard family has owned this business for more than four generations — first as a bike shop, and the last 30 years as artist studios.  If you’re hungry, get a slice of Pizza from Este on the ground floor of the building.  Resist the urge to go into the Bar X across the street; that’s for another outing.  Now go out the alley and up to #41 South Third East. Walk up the driveway adjacent to the building and you’ll see this view:













I snatched this photo from Call’s website as well because cars and weeds partially obscure the painting.  I like this mural with its backdrop of South Temple’s Cathedral of the Madeleine (1909) and the IBM Building (1961).  Design concepts evidently changed a great deal in a short 50 years.

Now continue south on Second East.  If you’re hungry, nip around to Les Madeleines cafe (216 East 500 South) where you can eat an icon: the Kouing Aman.  This buttery, flaky pastry is shipped across the country from this storefront and you are limited as to how many you may have at one go.  Kouing Aman is originally from Breton, and translates to “cake butter.”

Now turn right on Seventh South.  Notice the Buddhas, their feet stuck in cement, in front of this abandoned warehouse:







Head west to Kilby Court, the infamous indie music venue.  Walk down towards the end and you’ll see this image:














Back out onto Seventh South, head west to Fourth West into the neighborhood called the Granary District. Halfway through the block on the right, is an old commercial building with this image:














Circle around and come back to Third East.  Notice Montrose Avenue (745 South Third East) a nice little courtyard of well-kept Victorian bungalows.  Now shoot 12 blocks north and turn into Tuttle Court on the left. This is the existing row of cottages which was built in the late 1880s to house railroad workers.  There was a matching row facing it which was recently demolished.  I encountered the owner of the property who told me that she plans to rebuild the other row of cottages.














I was also lucky to meet one of the residents, Ms. Kimball, whose tiny black kitten was continually menacing her weary Dachshund.  She tried to give me the kitten.  Then she took me on a tour of the cottage, with its sloping wooden floors and tiny kitchen.  She even took me down into the dirt cellar to show me the giant boiler, which she said used to heat all the cottages in the courtyard, through underground pipes, which seems like a rational way to heat several homes together.

Go down to Sixth West and take a right.  Then head east a few doors to #540 North 600 West.  Around the side of the building, facing the freeway is this mural:














Because Call heard that this building was once owned by Brigham Young he fantasized that, as the quintessential Utah commercial building, it might have been called, “Utah Acme Co.”  So this mural says, “Utah Acme Co.” in Deseret Alphabet — the bewildering alphabet Young tried to get his followers to use.  Also note the honeybee, Utah’s symbol of industry.














Here is an historical photo of the building.  The fact that it was actually called the Citizen’s Coal Co. (and was built in 1905, 28 years after Brigham Young’s death) takes away nothing from Call’s droll interpretation. Although the neighborhood is isolated by the freeway exchange, it is the freeway which makes it easy to see the two-story high mural on the side of the building.

Now backtrack down Sixth North one block to Guadalupe Park.  Here is another icon, Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Local artist Willy Littig created it in 1987 and called it Lupita, a nickname for Guadalupe.

Irreverent and unexpected, Trent Call’s murals nestle into odd little corners, pointing up intriguing neighborhoods.  It’s amusing to follow his trail around Salt Lake, and see it through this lens.










A. #52 East Broadway

B.  #249 East Fourth South

C.  #158 East Second South

D.  #41 South Third East

E.  #57 East Seventh South

F.  Kilby Court, 330 West Seventh South

G.  ~ 745 South Fourth West

H.   Montrose Avenue, 745 South

I.  Tuttle Court, 550 West Fifth North

J.  #550 North Sixth West

K.  Guadalupe Park, Sixth West



Historic photos courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society.



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