The intersection of 500 W. and 400 N. is newly vibrant: a rainbow crosswalk, painted by Elizabeth ‘Bitsy’ Tatera, now guides pedestrians across the street. The art was funded by Moab Arts with money from Moab’s Art in Public Places fund and a National Endowment for the Arts public grant, and is part of a number of new public arts projects to be completed by June 2023.
“The public art in Moab is one of the elements that makes our town unique,” said Kelley McInerney, the arts & special events director at Moab Arts. “I remember visiting before I lived here and seeing some of the sculptures and murals, and thinking how special it made this already beautiful place feel.”
Five other projects are in the works: a river otter mural by local artist Pine Bones that will wrap around a restroom at the junction of Highway 191 and Highway 198, a white-lined sphinx moth mural by Ingrid Payne inside the MARC, a mural at the Moab Charter School painted by students, an art piano at the Moab Information Center painted by Scott Brunmeier with a design of fairy shrimp, and a dinosaur mosaic on a planter in front of the MARC also created by Brunmeier.
The projects were selected from a pool of 23 project proposals submitted by 16 different artists and groups, according to McInerney. Projects were selected based on community fit, uniqueness of project, timeline, funding, and the skills and experience of the artists.
“All applicants submitted great projects and ideas and we hope to see them come to life at some point,” McInerney said.
GCHS senior Ingrid Payne has been an artist since she was little, she said: both of her parents are artists, and encouraged her to think creatively. The white-lined sphinx moth project is her first ever mural, though she’s been interested in drawing since fifth grade when she took her main inspiration from Studio Ghibli movies. You’ve likely seen her work before—in February, she won first place in the Utah High School Clean Air Marketing Contest for a self-portrait.
For the Moab Arts project, she wanted to create something “fun and colorful,” she said.
“In my AP art class, we’re making portfolios—my theme this year was exploring the colors and shapes of moth wings,” Payne said. “I researched moths with this beautiful moth book from the bookstore and a book on Colorado Plateau flowers … when I heard about the mural proposals, I knew I wanted to portray a native moth and native flowers.”
Her mural can be found inside the MARC building.
Brunmeier is another local artist: he’s working on the art piano and planter mosaic. He’s worked with Moab Arts on a number of projects in the past and teaches the Moab Arts art summer camp program. While Brunmeier creates paintings constantly in his own practice, he enjoys creating public art as it presents a “needed constraint,” he said—he enjoys the challenge of, in this case, figuring out how to make place-based designs on items like the art piano and planter.
The art piano will be painted with a design of fairy shrimp, a type of freshwater shrimp that makes its home in ephemeral sandstone potholes. The brightly-painted shrimp will resemble musical notes on top of a black background.
The planter mosaic will be created with tile—Brunmeier said he hopes to source some tiles locally from ceramic artists—and will display dinosaur species that once roamed the Moab area. Once that project is completed, all four planters in front of the MARC will be decorated with unique mosaics.
“Working with the MARC is amazing—they just help you do what you’re good at,” Brunmeier said.