Gallery Spotlights | Visual Arts

Murray City Adds a Welcome Public Space to View Art in its New City Hall

Murray City uses the lobby in its new building to display art. Image credit: Geoff Wichert

Museums have a feeling of permanence about them, which they try to impart to the contemporary art they’ve recently started showing. Good luck with that. Galleries, meanwhile, come and go, their fates mostly linked to the individual directors who start them, give them character, and close them down when ready to move on. Somewhere in the middle are the public spaces, which delight us when they open and shock us when they close. The Alice was one of those: a perfect space that should have lasted, like a small, secret treasure house. The Governor’s Mansion can’t replace it, because such an amorphous, public space requires more popular art.

A new space, equally public but with a lower profile, has opened in the innovative and architecturally ambitious, recently-completed Murray City Hall. Designed by GSBS Architects and built by Layton Construction, the three-story structure features a variety of permanent and rotating art works. Perhaps of most interest to 15 Bytes is the lobby wall, a prominent location where a mezzanine allows two stories to be devoted to art that viewers can take in at a glance, or approach for a close-up look. According to Lori Edmunds, Murray City’s Cultural Program Manager, paintings, prints, photographs, and mixed media works will be shown here for three months at a time.

Stephanie Hock, “Caps and Cones”

Sandy Smith, “Blue Vase With Peaches”

The 15 artists currently exhibiting include Stephanie Hock, a wife and mother with a B.A. in art and a presence on the Web, where she shows and sells her work. A self-described Impressionist, she celebrates local types in their everyday environments and activities. “Caps and Cones,” a colorful acrylic on a ground prepared with broad brushstrokes that resemble weathered walls, depicts five adolescents in an ice cream parlor. Nearby, Jim Hartley demonstrates the virtue of graphic art technique in “Dancing With the Clouds,” wherein a yellow biplane soars among giant blue and white clouds. Impasto enlivens Carl G. Smith’s landscape, “The Bridge,” while in another popular genre, Still Life, Sandy Smith immortalizes the fragility of being, in “Blue Vase With Peaches.”

A new building with perfect walls can be intimidating for someone with art to hang. Here, single wires are used to suspend works, some of which might fare better with traditional nails. That said, the ambiance is less heavy than in a gallery, which can feel oppressive to some visitors, and allows viewing at ones own desired pace while providing, at least for now, a quiet space for contemplation. It’s not possible to know how this space will work out in the long run, but Murray City has deep experience with an extensive arts program located in a variety of different venues, and recently announced plans to demolish the old city building and replace it with a long-sought location for live theater. It all adds up to a range of cultural opportunities: close enough to downtown Salt Lake to enjoy without having to deal with the traffic and parking woes that arise when too many major attractions share a single grid.

Works at the Murray City Building, from left: Kathy Adair’s “Beauty With Mess,” Cassidy Lewis’ “The Adventurer’s Curio Cabinet,” and John C Tavoian’s “Brian’s Eagle.” Image credit: Geoff Wichert


Artists interested in exhibiting at the Murray City Building should contact Lori Edmunds, the Murray City Cultural Program Manager, at (801) 264-2620. or

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