“Painting murals and doing art for public enjoyments is honestly a dream come true for me,” says Brooklyn Ottens, who has created a mural at Bonwood Bowl (43 W. Oakland Ave.) in collaboration with Matt Monsoon as part of South Salt Lake’s 2021 Mural Fest. “I never wanted to become an artist who’s work was only found in private houses or galleries … I wanted to make art for everyone to enjoy, whether they had the money to purchase art themselves or not.”
Ottens started working with stencils and wheat pastes almost 15 years ago. “My love for public art was born long before that though, as my early years on the internet consisted of searches for graffiti and street art collections. Any travels to another state or country left me inspired by the art on public display that gave a sense of personality to each place.” Her first big mural work was on the back of FICE Boutique and Este Pizzeria in downtown Salt Lake City (where she worked at the time). The wall had been defaced with some ugly vandalism and when she decided she couldn’t stand looking at it anymore she decided to cover over it on her own time and dollar.
Matt Monsoon has also been a long-time street artist. His first official mural work was in 2018, when he was invited to be on the artistic team that created the The Salt Palace Subway mural as part of The BLOCKS inaugural kickoff event.
Monsoon says he loves the scale of mural work. “It’s awesome to work on huge canvases, but it requires a little more planning, and full-body investment. Drawing on a sheet of paper may all come down to the movement of the wrist — but with murals you’re literally climbing and running all around the canvas, and it can leave you feeling wiped out. But take a break, walk back from your mural and take it all in — and it’s worth it.”
Ottens and Monsoon have been partners in life for eight years. The pair recently worked in a team of 10 to complete a 3-part mural series Monsoon designed for the Kearns Public Library. “I talked him into applying to Mural Fest with me in hopes that we could do our first real mural collaboration, and am so happy we got the chance to do it.”
The pair experimented with dozens of ideas before narrowing down the possibilities to four and presenting them to Bonwood Bowling and South Salt Lake Arts. “We are still coming up with a name, but ‘Towards the Light’ has really stuck with both of us so far,” Ottens says. “It’s the idea that we have all experienced darkness, trauma, and uncertainty in our lives, but it doesn’t mean that we ourselves are dark. We are each brilliant beings that will never be kept from going towards the light, our better selves and a better world. It can all be found on the other side of fear.”
Both are excited to be part of Mural Fest. “It’s been amazing to see cities embracing their urban artists after decades of quite the opposite,” Monsoon says. “A real highlight for me is just to be a part of the energy of the event, to learn from and work with other amazing artists, and just feel that electricity that happens when you’ve got 10 murals simultaneously going up in the same neighborhood. We’re building a free public art gallery, open 24/7 to anyone and everyone — and that feels pretty amazing.”
You’ll find more of Matt Monsoon’s work at monsoonartworks.weebly.com and instagram.com/mattmonsoon.art. You’ll find Brooklyn Ottens at https://brooklynlineco.weebly.com and https://www.instagram.com/brooklynwild.
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With our In Plain Site byline we feature publicly viewable art, both official and street art, throughout the state of Utah.