Residents and tourists passing through the northwest corner of town will notice a new work of art brightening up the streetscape. Artist Jeremy Collins has rendered a colorful, stylized redtail hawk on the outside of The Gym on 5th, on a wall that faces 400 North, the T&H Corner Store and Snakeoil Coffee. The larger-than-life raptor is outlined in front of a colorful backdrop and frames a red-rock vista composed of intricate line work.
Collins said the piece was a bit of a departure from his usual palette.
“Usually I work mostly in monochrome, black and white with just a hit of color,” he said. This mural, completed on April 5, is rich in strong contrasting colors.
“The lavender was a last-minute decision,” the artist said of a series of details in a light purple shade. “I saw it in the hardware store and I was like, ‘Hey, I like that color.’”
Collins has created art for well-known clients like National Geographic Magazine, Outside Magazine, Patagonia, and Prana, and painted murals in cities across the country. He’s also contributed his art to guidebooks, and published several of his own books; he’s created or contributed to dozens of films; he also has his own brand, called Meridian Line. Meridian Line tee-shirts, hats and accessories featuring Collins’s work are sold at Gearheads in Moab.
The thread connecting Collins’s various creative works is his love of the outdoors. An accomplished rock climber, he’s explored wild terrain all over the world, often establishing new lines. He has donated his time and skills to support humanitarian causes and uses his art to advocate for the natural beauty of the places he loves: Local public lands activists may recognize posters he made to support the creation of Bears Ears National Monument.
Gym owners Casey Montandon and Emily Klarer share some traits in common with Collins: They are both artists and love the outdoors, they’re both strong athletes, and they’ve used the platform of the gym to foster community and support causes they care about. The two had been considering commissioning a mural on the building when Montandon, who follows Collins on Instagram, saw a post from the artist saying he had a “light month,” and could be available to paint a mural if anyone was interested. Montandon messaged him and they worked out a design over email. Collins arrived in Moab on Friday and got to work on the mural right away.
Sometimes Collins uses a projector to cast the outlines of his design on a wall to help lay it out, but this time he didn’t need to. The Gym on 5th is in a cinderblock building, which created a natural grid for reference. With a sketch in hand for a guide, Collins freehand painted the bird outline and landscape. He said the mountains and canyons in the mural aren’t exactly based on any real geographic features, but were informed by the views around Moab.
“I’m up on this twelve-foot ladder and I have this great vista, I can just look around and get inspiration,” he said.
Collins worked on the mural all day Friday and part of Saturday. He took some time on Sunday to go rock climbing, and was back on the ladder on Monday morning before the day heated up to put in the final lines and crisp up the edges between colors.
Passersby, in cars or on foot, called out encouragement and appreciation. Collins enjoyed the commentary—he said he’s often working within a construction zone, wearing noise canceling headphones, oblivious to any feedback.
“I love the energy here,” he said.