New mural in Ogden celebrates diversity and community, says ‘You Belong’

Cole Eisenhour (left), who created the mural in the background photo, stands with his sister Camryn at the mural's unveiling Friday, Aug. 6, 2021, in Ogden. Photos: Gephardt Daily/Nancy Van Valkenburg

OGDEN, Utah, Aug. 6, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Cole Eisenhour is the artist who created the mural that was unveiled Friday evening at the corner of 25th Street and Kiesel Avenue in Ogden.

The painting is based on the concept of “You Belong,” which MarketStar, the sales and marketing company that solicited and funded the project along with Weber County RAMP, promotes as one of its core values.

Eisenhour shared with Gephardt Daily a bit about how he came up with the design for the mural.

“It was quite the process,” he said. “MarketStar sent out a call for entries looking for art centered around one of their company values, ‘You Belong.’ This idea of diversity in perspective.

“I’m a figurative artist, so immediately I gravitated toward people and a design centered around a compilation of people. And as I kind of got going, it turned into this conglomerate of heads. And I elaborated on it a little bit, you know, messing with the subject matter and exchanging the races and ages, trying to encompass as many of those facets as I could.”

The mural, illustrating the idea that “You Belong,” incorporates various separate elements into a singular piece. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Nancy Van Valkenburg

He said in trying to touch on the “idea” aspect, he decided to have the heads rotate around the sides, with each head in a different orientation, to illustrate ideas and diversity.

“I just really wanted to make things pop, and have some interplay with overlapping elements where the heads kind of mesh together,” he said. “So the viewer has to do a little searching and deciphering, make it a little bit fun.”

The completed mural combines everything into a “singular element.” So, although the work is composed of separate pieces, it’s one design, one piece in itself.

“Sort of like our communities, you know. We need to work together and embrace different viewpoints and other people’s backgrounds and what they have to say,” he said. “So, those are kind of where my ideas come from, and them (MarketStar) giving me one of their core values, the ‘You Belong’ model, really gave me some nice jumping off points, so I knew it would be this diverse design with different races and genders.”

People in Ogden turned out to enjoy the happy atmosphere at the unveiling of the mural by Cole Eisenhour at 25th Street and Kiesel Avenue on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. (Photo: Gephardt Daily/Nancy Van Valkenburg)

He said the response Friday night has been great, and people’s reactions during the painting process were also really good.

“It was almost like a drive-thru because we’re in this bank parking lot, so people could swing around and turn around the block and come back again,” he said. “People in the community were really all about the idea, and I just wanted to execute it super-well.

“I know it’s gonna be here for awhile, but being an Ogden native, I couldn’t ask for a better spot and having the support I had from the community, too, just takes it up a step. It’s been awesome.”

The process of making the mural a reality was more complicated than Eisenhour first expected. “I didn’t anticipate that it would be that tough to paint, but the roughness of the surface of the wall was like super-hard to cover.”

He said it took quite awhile, but as he got about half-way through the project, he figured out how the paint works and how the surface accepts the paint. He said he “got pretty good with my brush,” and described the physical effort as “a lot of scrubbing and stabbing paint into holes — quite a process.”

He said although some press releases say it took him six weeks to complete the mural,  he actually worked on it for about three and a half weeks. He started the work in the second week of July and the last week was “just a blur of painting, sleeping, waking up, eating and back to painting.”

He’s “pretty proud” of the placement of the huge artwork and feels it turned out better than he expected. He said he still has a “couple tweaks” he wants to do, but he hopes people will come down to see the mural, see if they can pick out all the elements, and just have fun.

‘About time for Ogden’

Melanie Vigil was on scene for the mural’s official unveiling, and she said she feels the artwork representing diversity is needed.

“I think it’s about time for Ogden. Honestly, I’ve been hoping for a long time that we’d have something with more diversity than — you know, Ogden Rodeo.”

“And as an artist, it’s very deep. Emotions, there’s so much in the picture. The colors and the way they blend into each other, the looks on their faces. And just, you know, what our country’s going through right now, all the stuff that’s going on right now, I think it speaks to what’s in our hearts. We do all belong.

“To me it seems like it’s calling to us to pay attention,” she said of the mural. “I see sadness, I see hope, maybe a little anger, maybe peace. I think he did just a really great job.”

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