September 24, 2016

Trent Call and the Salt Lake City Urban Art Scene

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Murals are a unique art form, accessible and viewable by everyone, not just museum-goers, according to local artist Trent Call. “It exists in the world,” he said. “It becomes part of your landscape; a part of the city as a whole.”

Call, born and raised in Salt Lake City, has been a long-time fixture in the Salt Lake art scene. He works with various mediums for his projects, including oil, acrylic, spray paint, pen, and the computer. In cities such as London, Los Angeles and New York graffiti art and urban art have taken off. The elusive Banksy has become somewhat of a household name in this world, and more murals are showing up all over Salt Lake. Call works with spray cans, but doesn’t consider himself a “graffiti artist”, he says that despite many restaurant decorators using mural artists, the art form is not yet to the point of becoming  main-stream enough in Salt Lake where residents are paying a lot of money to hang it on their walls.

“The urban arts gallery is the only one around showing urban type stuff, Call says, “The only gallery I show in is 15th st. And that’s all oil painted figures. Years ago with early Kayo and Unknown gallery seemed to be really happening. Kayo even had its own art zine called ‘Artspeak’. Then Blonde Grizzly was happening. They recently shut down. Even Ken Sanders was doing “urban” ish shows then. It’s kinda weird now honestly…ha! I have stacks of paintings (popy, urban) I can’t sell in this town.” Call says it’s his oil paintings that sell the best.

“I’ll use most anything that is called for on the project,” Call explained. “I love learning new techniques and mediums to mix and match. Mix up the old with the new. It keeps things from getting stagnant.”

Call started like most do, drawing as a kid and kept with it, honing his skills. He was inspired by Thrasher Magazine and skate graphics growing up. As he progressed, his inspiration came anywhere from famous painters to magazines.

His high school art teacher was supportive and pushed him to pursue college. He earned a BFA from the University of Utah in 2004 and is now one of nine artists at Captain Captain Studios in Salt Lake.

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Lately, Call is kept busy learning new methods, juggling many different projects for businesses, and a handful of his own projects. He’s currently learning how to use a sign painter’s brush and studying After Effects, a computer graphics program used in visual effects and composition.

He’s working on large murals for an office space in Salt Lake and reworking a logo for a local brewery. Also, he’s been sign-painting for a new local sandwich shop and is gearing up for a show in May.

Call feels murals improve the downtown visual experience. Over the summer he and some friends approached the owner of a burned-out building to paint a mural.

“We painted some big pretty colors and shapes on it and bam! It’s way better than a buffed wall and way better than an empty lot,” he said.

In his free time, Call photographs graffiti he finds around the city and on the freights that come through town.

“Some of the stuff that rolls through town on the freight is arguably some of the most amazing artwork out there, but graffiti in general is a weird, ephemeral thing,” he explained. “It can be dirty and ugly; it’s destructive and loud and, at the same time, it can be beautiful and moving. Just like any other form of expression in that way.”

His inspiration comes from those around him and trying things out. He takes cues from friends’ and other artists’ work he sees and is always experimenting with new tools.

“I try not to rely too heavily on inspiration, for that only comes along once in awhile,” he explained. “It’s more about just getting to work and making it happen.”

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