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Salt Lake City whale sculpture draws wide range of opinions

Posted at 5:52 PM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 19:52:37-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Just days into its debut, a gigantic whale sculpture is turning heads and drawing people to a Liberty Park neighborhood.

Many people are stopping by to take pictures and some are driving by while yelling their distaste for the new public art installation.

The massive artwork titled "Out of the Blue" is creating ripples of conversation.

D.J. Smith, the manager of Caffe Expresso located directly across the street from the sculpture, has been on board since the beginning. He thinks the title and the artwork fits the 9th & 9th neighborhood it’s in.

“The neighborhood is kind of out of the blue for Utah,” said Smith

Smith and other baristas at Caffe Expresso can testify that the blubberous mammal is creating a rubberneck roundabout.

“Well there’s been a ton of people coming down to see it, so I’d say it’s definitely brought people into the area for sure,” said Smith.

Several people made 900 South and 1100 East a destination Thursday so they could see the life-size breaching humpback whale up close.

“We came out to see the whale, we think it’s progressive, forward thinking. Mixed reactions are ok, but it’s here, learn to love it,” said resident Kaye Donahoe.

Sondra Saunders grew up in Salt Lake City and said she loves the colors of the whale sculpture and welcomes its presence in the neighborhood.

“It’s different and it does make you stop and look at it and have an opinion," added Saunders.

Local artist Chuck Landvatter has mixed feelings about the statue.

“I have to say overall I love that people are talking about it," exclaimed Landvatter. "My personal opinions are less important other than the fact that this is doing what art should do… and getting people to talk and hopefully civilly.”

Landvatter added that he doesn’t think a public piece of art has been talked about since the 337 building, which was a collective artwork project from 2007.

The sculpture is the work of artist Stephen Kesler, and artist Mike Murdock painted the mural on its surface.

“The fact that people are coming down to look at anything and taking a second to wonder is worth something,” said Smith.