The Salt Lake City Arts Council’s Public Art Program, in collaboration with Salt Lake City Public Lands Department, is pleased to announce its latest public art project that will result in the creation of a permanent surface mural that will be integrated into the sports courts at Poplar Grove Park. This project will remove two failing tennis courts in Poplar Grove Park and replace them with one tennis court and two pickleball courts. This new court design was determined following community engagement that gathered input on proposed court design and inclusion of potential art elements.

After reviewing applications collected from the 2020-2022 Prequalified Artist Pool, the Salt Lake City Art Design Board recommended Roots Art Kollective (the RAK) for this project and Mayor Mendenhall approved the commission. The designs shown below were part of the preliminary proposal submitted to the Art Design Board;  They do not represent the final design as currently the RAK are in collaboration with the Public Art Program, Public Lands Department, and the contracted landscape architect to generate a final design that combines elements of the two proposed images below while being conscious of any technical specifications and limitations of using sport-court specific materials. The project is likely to be implemented in the Summer of 2023.

The RAK’s proposal stood out not just for its high-quality designs, but also for their keen interest in connecting to the community and creating something representative of and inspiring to the Poplar Grove neighborhood. Further community engagement will be led by the RAK as they progress with the project. The RAK explained,

“Parks are an imperative component to the socialization and growth of a community. It can become the place where we form our first memories. It can be the moment where you bounce your first ball, or even play your first game of tennis. . . We wanted to reinforce the values and importance of growth, nature & our environment, pride for where we live, and lastly to tap into those memories that remind ourselves that we are kids at heart.”

“The RAK wants to make the Jordan River a main feature [of the artwork], as it is an important component to the wildlife and the sense of pride to the west side communities, especially Poplar Grove. The theme of water, movement, environment, flow, and dance are all elements that we wanted to explore. The way water dances and flows is similar to how tennis/pickleball can imitate a dance done with focus, power, and flow. . . We want to highlight and juxtapose the sport of tennis and pickleball to the beautifully different styles and traditions of dance.”

Roots Art Kollective

The RAK are a local art collective composed of three Mexican-American artists: Miguel Galaz, Alan Ochoa, and Luis Novoa. The collective began painting community murals in 2015 in Salt Lake City. Their mission is to expand public art to create vibrant environments that allow people to learn about the cultures that enrich our communities. They have over eight years of painting murals and are known for their use of nature, patterns, and calligraphy in their bold and expressive work.


To learn more about the RAK and follow along as the project develops follow RAK on Instagram at @therak.murals and the Salt Lake City Public Art Program @slc_publicartprogram.