Salt Lake City’s newest public art piece is a 25,000 pound shipping container

Aug 3, 2023, 9:00 PM

Salt Lake City's newest public art piece...

Salt Lake City’s newest public art piece, “Trade Balance,” stands in the Northwest Quadrant of Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023. The piece completes Utah’s largest above-ground art installation and is a nod to the Northwest Quadrant’s commerce, logistics, manufacturing and distribution industries. (Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

(Megan Nielsen/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Thursday morning Gov. Spencer Cox and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall unveiled Salt Lake City’s newest public art piece. It’s called “Trade Balance,” and it’s a bright orange, 25,000-pound 40-foot-long shipping container.

According to a press release, “Trade Balance” is engineered to tower in the air at an angle. It’s 39 feet at the highest point and 13 feet at the lowest. Along with this, it’s Utah’s largest above-ground art installation.

Mendenhall told KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic the colossal shipping container is there just “for the sake of art.”

“It’s in a place that is out there where we have a lot of drop ship, warehouses, [a] ton of commerce going on [and] semi trucks moving 24 hours a day,” she said. “It’s not a place you expect to see public art … You’re also gonna see portions of shipping containers sticking at funny angles out of some of those warehouse buildings.”

Mendenhall said she thinks the piece will have truck drivers and employees in the area scratching their heads.

“Like, what is this? Is this the result of an accident? How did this happen,” she said. “But, it’s there for the sake of art.”

The art piece is located at 3775 West California Ave.

“As you’re driving along California [Ave.], if you pay attention to some of those other buildings along the route, you’ll see the other pieces of shipping containers that are sticking out of some of the buildings,” Mendenhall said.

According to the mayor, “Trade Balance” took a good amount of engineering. Not only was it difficult to erect due to wind force, but it’s in a flight pathway.

“The engineers had to work really carefully about how it is and where it is, but it is very strong,” Mendenhall said.

Why a shipping container? The importance of a public art piece

Mendenhall said the installation is a gift from Steven Price of Price Real Estate. According to the mayor he owns quite a few of the warehouses around the piece.

“This is not a city-owned installation,” she said. “This is out there on private property. He’s got a permit from the city to do it, but it’s really a gift from Price real estate.”

Like “Out of the Blue,” also known as the 9th and 9th Whale, Mendenhall said “Trade Balance” adds “innumerable” benefits to Salt Lake City. She said these, and other public art pieces, generate a sense of place.

“Placemaking makes someone feel, not only like they’ve arrived and it’s a unique space that they’re in, but it helps to locate businesses that attracts the local economy and stimulates it around there and it gives neighborhoods and neighbors a sense of identity,” she said.

Mendenhall said art should make people feel that “this place is cared about.”

“There is investment happening here that isn’t simply utility investment,” she said. “That we as a community care about this space. And, we’re thinking more about the space than what might meet the eye.”

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

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Salt Lake City’s newest public art piece is a 25,000 pound shipping container