Utah community debates over controversial mural

Oct 24, 2022, 6:10 PM | Updated: Oct 25, 2022, 1:21 pm

NOTE: A full view of the mural is contained in the story below. View with discretion.

MIDVALE, Utah — A mural on Midvale’s Main St. has the town talking. Some community members said the public art display is inappropriate for children to view, while others said it’s all up to interpretation.

“Because it’s up for interpretation, I’ve heard many people say it represents different things to them,” Mayor Marcus Stevenson said.

He said the mural went up in May on the backside of a tattoo parlor, but only recently has it sparked a lot of conversation.

Stevenson said the artist, Shae Petersen had his designs approved by the city and owner of the business the mural is displayed on.

“He had some concepts for it and a certain style he was going for, which was a Baroque style,” Petersen said.

Some critics of the mural said in a city council meeting the mural seemed to depict a naked man and woman “experiencing ecstasy.” Another person, during public comment, said as a father of four, the art made him “cringe.”

“You’re seeing an arm and a breast,” Petersen said. “That’s both there, but there was never any intention to hide it or make it some sort of an optical illusion.”

Some residents said the female in the mural appears young.

“You can’t say that she has a huge breast and she’s also child-like,” Petersen said. “You have to pick and choose what your opinion is.”

The controversial mural on the back of Midvale tattoo parlor on Main Street. (KSL-TV’s Shelby Lofton)

Stevenson said the majority of the public doesn’t take issue with the art. He said it’s brought visitors into the city and started meaningful conversations about art.

“I think seeing art that is unique that starts conversations that gets people onto our Main St. to come and view this, I think that’s something that residents are recognizing,” he said.

Stevenson said the city views the art as a 1st Amendment issue and doesn’t violate the city’s community standards.

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Utah community debates over controversial mural