Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: City Investigates Chalk Art Mural Mishap
Old Town street art commissioned by Park City disappeared one day after it was completed by the artist.
The City’s Public Works Crew washed off the sidewalk sometime between Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. The 3D chalk mural of a skier on Swede Alley near the transit center was part of the Park City Historical Alliance’s “Chalk of the Town,” a weekly street art mural series in Old Town.
Local artist Sarah Means went to take pictures of her mural with her family Saturday afternoon and discovered it had disappeared.
"I was mostly flabbergasted," Means said. "I mean, it was a little bit surreal. Honestly, it was ... I'm just like, I know this was just here. I just finished this less than 24 hours ago. I still have chalk embedded in my fingers prints."
Means is a Summit County resident and said she moved to the area - in part - because the community celebrates art.
Her normal medium is paint, and she’s done some mural work, but she said the chalk piece was out of her comfort zone.
"I applied to do it simply because I think community art is important because it does meet people where they're at," she said. "You don't have to have money to buy art, to get to see art and to appreciate people making what's cool and beautiful."
Means was paid $1,250 for her work. Outgoing HPCA Executive Director Alison Kulow said Means spent countless hours on the mural.
"It did take her four days to complete," Kuhlow said. "She put in a lot of effort to be able to put this piece together. And we're just heartbroken that it's not available for people to enjoy."
Kuhlow said the whole thing was a big misunderstanding. She said public works crews were cleaning the trash compactor right next to the site and also decided to clean the sidewalk where the mural was.
"Honestly, if you look at how well they cleaned it, like they did an awesome job," she said. "But yeah, I mean, for us, we feel like there was probably some miscommunications that led to this taking place."
So how did this happen?
April 12 the Park City Arts Advisory Board recommended the chalk art project to the city council. Then on April 29, Economic Development Program Director Jenny Dierson presented the project to the city council. And May 13, she came back to the council with design concepts.
What happened after that is unclear accordinging to Deputy City Manager David Everitt.
["So did public works just not know about it, or where was the miscommunication?" KPCW asked Everitt.]
"I don't really know, honestly, at this point, what happened there," Everitt said. "And I can think that there's probably a couple of things we could do, certainly to make sure this type of unfortunate incident doesn't happen again."
The city is looking into putting up temporary signs indicating the murals are intentional.
He also said they’re looking internally to see what happened.
"I feel bad that it happened," he said. "I know our public works folks feel terrible. And we'll just do what we can to make sure it doesn't happen again."
The incident comes less than a year after the city commissioned a social equity street art mural on Main Street, which was later vandalized. Everitt said it’s an unfortunate coincidence there were two issues with murals in the last year.
"From my perspective, when I heard I was just like, 'oh, no,' because I knew there was a potential for people to maybe try to connect those two," he said. "But from everything I know, there's absolutely no reason to connect them."
Everitt and Park City Mayor Andy Beerman have reached out directly to Means to apologize for the accident and are hoping to bring her back this summer. Means said making another mural isn’t completely off the table if all the stars align.
"Right now, I know I'm a little sunburned," Mean said. "My fingers hurt, they’re a little raw from rubbing on brick for four days. So, I'm not there mindset wise today. But, I'm not closed off to the idea."
There are two more scheduled murals for the upcoming weekends.