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Salt Lake airport looking for artists to help with tunnel vision

Underground passageway connecting concourses to feature 144-foot murals featuring Utah’s 4 seasons

Gordon Huether, consulting artist for the Salt Lake City International Airport, left, and Tad Kaczor, deputy director of design and scope delivery for the airport, stand in the Mid-Concourse Tunnel as they talk about murals for the walls of the tunnel at the new airport in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. The airport is looking for two artists to paint the murals. Each will be 144 feet long and represent one of Utah’s four seasons.
Gordon Huether, consulting artist for the Salt Lake City International Airport, left, and Tad Kaczor, deputy director of design and scope delivery for the airport, stand in the Mid-Concourse Tunnel as they talk about murals for the walls of the tunnel at the new airport in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. The airport is looking for two artists to paint the murals. Each will be 144 feet long and represent one of Utah’s four seasons.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — When the new Salt Lake City International Airport opens in less than seven months, the blending of art into architecture will certainly capture the attention of travelers.

Right now, team leaders are looking for mural artists to paint a tunnel that will connect the two concourses.

“I believe that art is essential to the quality of life,” said Gordon Huether, consulting artist on the new airport.

Huether created seven of the major art installations that travelers will see throughout the new airport. He’s also overseeing the selection process for the murals in the new mid-concourse tunnel.

The murals will have a three-year showing because it’s only a temporary tunnel. It was built more than 15 years ago in anticipation of this project and then sealed up. Now, it’s a public art project primed for inspiration.

”I’m handing you a gigantic empty wall,” Huether said. “So, for a muralist it doesn’t get any better than that.”

The $4.1 billion airport project is taking shape inside and outside. The airport now serves 26 million passengers a year and was built to handle half that number 50 years ago.

Right now, construction crews are focused on completing spaces and signing off so they can move on to the next space and complete that one, said Tad Kaczor, deputy director in charge of design and scope delivery.

”We’re trying to complete things as quickly as possible, before Aug. 1 is what we’re going for, and then Sept. 15 is operational,” he said.

Gordon Huether’s art installation, “The Canyon,” will be integrated on two walls of the new Salt Lake City International Airport’s central terminal.
Gordon Huether’s art installation, “The Canyon,” will be integrated on two walls of the new Salt Lake City International Airport’s central terminal.
The Salt Lake City International Airport

It’s a very busy construction site with only 203 days until the opening of the first concourse.

”You can call it exciting,” said Kaczor. ”You can call it a little nervous. We’re working as hard and diligently as we can to be ready for passengers in the airport.”

Concourse A opens Sept. 15. Six weeks later, Concourse B opens with the mid-concourse tunnel as the link.

”This becomes the link for the short term until we build the central tunnel which will be centrally located directly off of the main terminal,” Kaczor said.

When 26 million travelers will pass through the tunnel tunnel each year, they will enjoy art that celebrates Utah’s natural beauty.

“To create a sense of place, and we want to inspire, and in the airport we want to lower the stress level,” Huether said.

The airport is looking for two artists to paint the four tunnel murals, which are each 144-feet long. Each of the two artists will paint two murals. The theme is Utah’s seasons. So each of those two artists will paint two of the seasons.

Huether said there’s a lot of enthusiasm, and competition, for this kind of project.

”It’s very exciting to be able to create work that literally millions of people every year will see,” he said.

Representatives from the airport and art community will review the submissions and narrow it down to four finalists. The four finalists will tour the construction site to see the mid-concourse tunnel firsthand before proposing concepts for the space. It’s a chance to make a creative, cultural mark on our community.

”We really, really encourage the local art community to respond,” he said

Submissions by artists are due by the end of the week. Huether said more than 60 artists have already put in designs.

For those interested in applying for the project, log onto slcairport.com.

Gordon Huether, consulting artist for the Salt Lake City International Airport, looks at the walls in the Mid-Concourse Tunnel at the new airport on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. The airport is looking for two artists to paint murals on the tunnel walls. Each will be 144 feet long and represent one of Utah’s four seasons.
Gordon Huether, consulting artist for the Salt Lake City International Airport, looks at the walls in the Mid-Concourse Tunnel at the new airport on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. The airport is looking for two artists to paint murals on the tunnel walls. Each will be 144 feet long and represent one of Utah’s four seasons.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News