Thursday, July 22, 2010


Sure, those of you outside of the land of Zion are wondering why the 4th is being celebrated so late on this weird blog from the hinterlands.

Well, that is because in Utah no one cares much about our national holiday. That's right. The 4th? Nope. The real holiday is the 24th, the day the first Mormon pioneers arrived in Salt Lake: Pioneer Day. Much more important than any signing of any kind of declaration back east somewhere sometime in the previous century. The flag waving, the picnics, the fireworks, even the parades are postponed until the 24th. I have been told that it's not just me who finds this whole thing odd...apparently everyone that moves to this state is horribly baffled. It doesn't help when you move just a few days before the 4th and a few weeks before the 24th.

So since its almost the 24th, I thought this would be a good day to view some local murals in celebration of this day.

The old railway station in the center of town is no longer functioning, but luckily someone realized it was a cool building and put it on the National Register of Historic Places. While it's not quite Grand Central,

it is worth saving. Too bad it's now attached to a shopping mall. Granted, it's a nice mall, but still. Luckily it has yet to have shops placed within it. Instead it sits empty.

There are many nice original details also on view:

LOVE the greek key floors and the acorn plasterwork (although I am not sure how many acorns there are in Utah).

However, the good news is that its emptiness affords good views of the two lovely Depression-style murals as well. The first depicts the grand arrival of the Mormons in Salt Lake Valley lead by the late great Brigham Young.

This is how things actually looked:
Here is Brigham in the mural:

And this is what he actually looked like (a bit rougher around the edges, but actually has some good rugged type features, doesn't he? Just a bit dangerous, old West outlaw-like, don't you think?  I guess he had to have something get so many people to follow him out into the desert):

You can see what a beautiful and lush countryside these pioneers decided to settle in.  See those hills in the background?

And yes, that is actually what it looks like:
I understand they had been persecuted and were looking for somewhere remote, but, I cannot imagine telling all my followers: look! This is the place! The wonderful valley where we shall settle! Isn't it perfect?! They must have had a lot of faith, especially since most of them were Scandinavian or British (whose population is even more pale-skinned than the Scandinavians).

The second mural depicts another great day for the state of Utah (not to mention the entire, not interested in that. right. sorry.): the driving of the golden spike at Promontory Summit which completed the transcontinental railroad. Yes, that did happen in Utah, and once again we see good Brigham Young at the center of the scene. He in fact, supplied a great deal of money and men to the railroad...anyone read 'Nothing Like It In the World' by Ambrose?

  And here is what it actually looked like:
And here is Brigham again (he is looking pretty mighty with that sledgehammer):

And here is what Brigham actually looked like in his older years:


Such artwork always causes my mind to drift ever so slowly to propaganda art. Of course, I am in no way saying these murals or any of the typical American New Deal style art is propaganda. However, it might, on occasion, be a slight manipulation of reality. But everyone does this...every country. Some better than others, some manipulate more than others. Of course the communist countries take the cake every time. And there happens to be a North Korean art exhibit on right now in Vienna! And as per last week, there has been some stir...some complaints. But I for one, find these images positively fascinating and endlessly amusing. How could I pass this up? It's not possible. So here is a quick peek...
Happy North Korean street cleaners:
Happy North Korean farmers surveying their bounty:

And happy North Korean children: that the North Korean version of a Hello Kitty backpack?

And here are more happy children with the leaders of North Korea.  Wow, what a happy and productive nation.

I, stupidly, was under the impression the country was more like this:

Although there does seem to be just a touch of militancy in one particular painting that may, at first glace appear perfectly innocent.  No, these children are not making a snowman, they are instead making a snow-nuclear weapon.  They start them young.

Although you have to admit there is some pretty awesome architecture in this country where they don't feed their people...

oh wait, of course they feed them...and they are all happy. I know this now thanks to the highly informative images above.

Happy 24th of July everyone!


  1. Great post, Christa!

    I've heard talk of plans about the Union Pacific building, like creating an art space of sorts. I think that would be rad. We'll see. My favorite detail is the floor tiling. I'd love to have a house with flooring like that.

    There are a lot of acorns here in Utah. I remember picking acorns at Grandma & Grandpa Newton's & separating the tops. I preferred playing with those over the horse chestnuts at my other grandparents' house.

    Random fact: Brigham Young lived to be 77! I think it's particularly interesting because of the rough life he had. Cause of death: ruptured appendix, something that probably couldn't have been prevented at that time anyway.

  2. An art space would be great. And thanks for the info on acorns and Brigham! Very informative!

  3. Christa....I have to ask...were you HERE on the 4th? BOTH holidays are observed and respected in the Beehive state. We are just lucky enough to get 2 holidays in the same month with fireworks, picnics and parades!

  4. Of course you are correct Danielle, the 4th is celebrated....I was just making the point that the little-known holiday outside the state is quite important here! And yes, its great having 2 in one month!

  5. Sadly, I live just down the road from the Union Pacific building and I have yet to see it. Though I've been told the Mexican restaurant that's somewhere near it (attached, inside, I'm not exactly sure where it is) has good margaritas.
    After a couple years I still forget about the 24th. We flew back into town on Saturday and it took a while to remember why all the restaurants we wanted to eat at were closed!

  6. Christa-
    I am in 100 percent in agreement about the 24 no one cares about the fourth when our nation was discovered ( and i was born and raised here and i feel that way). I love the rant it is really nice to read through these and see my teacher that i look up to doing what i have a passion for and seeing how she does it through her eyes. Thank you for everything that you do Christa