TREMONTON – By Jessica Tanner – August 20, 2020
Tremonton City has become known for its public art - a collection they are constantly adding to and improving.
For this year’s mural the council recently approved a depiction of former local resident Gail “Hal” Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber. It is slated to be complete by Halvorsen's 100th birthday on October 10, 2020.
Artist Erik Burke from Reno, Nevada, has been commissioned by the city to do the work. His rendition of the “Candy Bomber” will be painted on the Marble building at 105 W. Main Street, just west of the city’s veteran’s memorial at Midland Square.
For a couple months, Tremonton’s Arts Council has been working with Burke to come up with a mural that would depict the life of Halvorsen, who was a U.S. Air Force pilot. Halvorsen became known worldwide as the “Berlin Candy Bomber” or “Uncle Wiggle Wings” after parachuting candy to German children during the Berlin Airlift in the late 1940s.
“He is originally from Garland and has been a big part of our community and history,” said Tremonton City’s Recreation and Community Events Manager Zach LeFevre.
City staff has been in contact with Halvorsen’s daughter to obtain information needed to help Burke create Halvorsen’s life in one image. During the unveiling in October, Halvorsen will be unable to attend physically, but the city is hopeful they could include him virtually.
The mural will feature a portrait of Halvorsen based on a photograph that was taken years ago. Burke secured copyright permission from the photographer to use it in the composition of his mural.
“You are very welcome to use one of my pictures as a template for your picture. However, in return I would like to ask you for a nice photograph of you in front of the finished picture with a print of my photo in your hand,” the photographer stated.
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The photo has been pivotal in helping Burke capture Halvorsen’s likeness. Burke’s creation will also contain a plane similar those Halvorsen flew during his service, barbwire to further represent the war, candy parachuting through the air with outstretched hands, as well as a gold foil candy wrapper background, which will be peeled to reveal a chocolate bar.
Tremonton City Councilmember Connie Archibald said, “This is so clever how he did this and tied everything together with a candy bar. It is beautifully put together.”
“It tells the whole story in that picture,” added Councilmember Lyle Vance.
The cost to complete the mural is just over $15,000 and this one will come together in record timing. Since Burke is from out of state, he plans to have the mural done in about a week. He’ll begin painting the mural in September so that it will be ready for an unveiling in October, just in time for Halvorsen’s big birthday.
Tremonton’s murals and other public art are not going unnoticed.
For the past five years the city has won the Best of State Award in the Public Art category and received recognition in newspaper and magazine articles, as well a feature on KUED.
This year Tremonton City won the Best of State Statue for the Division of Arts and Entertainment. The BOSS trophy weighs 22 pounds. It has a granite base and is comprised of bronze and plated with 24-karat gold.
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“Tremonton City is appreciative of all the artists who have contributed to the city’s public art program, and notable Jason Nessen for his talent and ongoing efforts in creating murals,” said Tremonton City Manager Shawn Warnke.
Nessen is currently wrapping up his most recent mural, “The Grand Entry” on the south end of the Box Elder County fairgrounds.
“Tremonton’s public art has improved the City’s streetscape and also enlarged the city’s reputation in the arts,” Warnke added.
Tremonton City has received financial support for its Public Art Program from the Box Elder County Tourism Tax Advisory Board and County Commission, Rocky Mountain Power, Union Pacific Railroad, Utah Division of Arts and Museums, Northrop Grumman, among others.
The city’s Arts Council, as well as LeFevre’s management and leadership, have also bolstered the program.