New public art piece in the Marmalade District is sparking conversation

Jan 5, 2024, 8:05 PM | Updated: 8:12 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A new 18-foot art piece in Salt Lake City has people talking.

In the city’s Marmalade District, next to the library on the corner of 500 North and 300 West, is a bronze sculpture of an apricot that has been a long time in the making.

The artist, Day Christensen, was commissioned by the Salt Lake City Arts Council Public Art Program to make a piece that paid tribute to the area where it would be installed.

“It’s interesting to look at each neighborhood and see what’s appropriate,” he said.

He started the creation about seven years ago.

“I sculpted a small size model of the apricot with the leaf on it, and then from that, we built a large form that I put clay on to do the final sculpting,” Christensen said. “The foundry created a mold of the entire piece, which they then made waxes from, which they then made shell castings to pour the bronze. And that’s all done in smaller pieces… then it all had to be welded back together. The final step was to do the patina, the coloring of it.”

The apricot statue on the corner of 500 North and 300 West.

The apricot statue being placed on the corner of 500 North and 300 West. (KSL TV, Shelby Lofton)

The city’s public art program manager, Renato Olmedo-Gonzalez, said the piece will serve as a welcome into a new plaza, currently under construction, at the center of the Marmalade District.

“Adding art is a way to not only beautify our spaces, but also give them an additional layer of meaning,” Olmedo-Gonzalez said.

Christensen did research on the neighborhood to figure out his design.

“The first residents had a lot of fruit trees because their homes were on the hillside and they ended up making marmalade from that and would bring it down to the highway and sell the fruit there,” he said.

It’s a slice of history many people don’t know about. Olmedo-Gonzalez said the attention-getting sculpture is encouraging people to look into its context and understand more about the area.

“We consider a piece of public art successful when it starts igniting these conversations,” he said.

The bronze fruit represents recent growth in the historic neighborhood.

“It’s an area that’s rapidly changing, there’s more places to eat, restaurants, businesses,” Olmedo-Gonzalez said.

The artist said he hopes the public enjoys the fruits of his labor, even if they think it resembles another fruit.

“Often, they think it’s a peach,” he said. “It’s not a big issue for me one way or the other.”

The plaza where it sits is expected to be completed in the spring. Olmedo-Gonzalez said the area will be a new greenspace with outdoor seating. He said the piece would be officially inaugurated then.

The installation was funded by the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake Art Design Board.

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New public art piece in the Marmalade District is sparking conversation