Traveling south on Main Street, it’s hard to miss Trent Call’s eclectic homage to the Utah Jazz. There are plenty of Easter eggs to be found in the mural that celebrates the team’s 40 seasons: longtime fans will be able to pick out the evolution of the team’s logo and colors, clever references to Jerry Sloan, John Stockton, and Karl Malone, some iconic symbols of Utah and—is that a Hot Rod reference? This mural is truly visually exciting for any fan,who will discover something new every time they pass by, and be treated with a bit of comic relief.
Call was asked by the Jazz to complete the mural on the wall just south of the 100 South Zions Bank branch after they saw the mural he did for the Michael Jordan pop-up store at FICE Gallery in downtown Salt Lake City. “[They] liked that direction and character style,” Call says. The Utah native grew up a fan in the ‘80s and ‘90s when the team undoubtedly made a name for itself. “I grew up as a fan…but over time could not keep up with all the new changes and players,” he says. But after doing research, he realized how great the current lineup is. This genuine and researched relationship between Call and the Jazz reveals itself in the mural, with images of Donovan Mitchell juxtaposed with team legends. Indeed, this is a mural for all fans, old and new.
Call’s body of work transcends a single genre, ranging from formal academic painting to more playful, graffiti-type methods and practices. He has packed as much of this latter style in the mural as he possibly could. The crowded arrangement of the elements of the work allows the viewer’s eye to move around in a staccato progression. And the comic-like elements are successful by way of the interruptions of color and pattern, which ease the experience of looking at an otherwise high contrast design.
Aside from how playful and energetic the final work came to be, Call cites the quick turnaround as being the biggest challenge to the commission. “They wanted it completed in time for the beginning of the season,” he recalls. “Another challenge was coming to consensus on the final design. “I’d say I had to depart from my original vision somewhat.” Regardless of these obstacles, the amalgamation of visions resulted in a successful mural where fans may have difficulty choosing a favorite part of the work. Call himself can’t even pin down a favorite element of the mural. “I really like Hot Rod. And Gobert’s block pose is cool! I like the Buckle Up! I guess just the overall cluttery movement of it all,” says the artist.
But perhaps more than anything, Call is excited to contribute to the booming Salt Lake City mural scene: “It’s cool that Salt Lake has finally come around to painting so many blank walls recently!” Call says. Downtown Salt Lake City has become more colorful over the past few years, with murals such as this one, allowing the city to put a unique stamp on itself. Call says, “It’s really just a big, bold tribute to the team’s history and a way for fans to recognize all the insider things they know and love about the Jazz.”
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Vasiliki Karahalios received her B.A. and M.A. in Art History from the University of Utah. Her research concerns Transatlantic art of the nineteenth-century and global contemporary art. She currently teaches classes at West High School and the University of Utah, and continues to write for 15 Bytes.