POCATELLO — As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
But for Josh Pohlman and the other artists involved in the second annual SIXES Mural Fest, which kicked off in the Gate City Saturday, one person’s blank, empty wall is a canvas of creativity for another.
By end of the week-long event, seven murals each about 450-square-feet will adorn the walls of businesses scattered throughout Pocatello. Organizers will commemorate the event with a ribbon-cutting at one of the seven mural sites, the Chamber of Commerce building at 324 S. Main St., at 5:15 p.m. Thursday as well as with an all-night party at the new SIXES Creative Studio at 225 Yellowstone Ave. on June 25.
“Mural Fest is about inundating the community with cool public art in a short time frame. We kind of want to shock the system a little bit,” Pohlman said. “It’s just a week-long paint-slinging frenzy that leaves people saying, ‘Whoa, where did this come from?’ Ideally it helps to start conversations about public art, murals, beautification and giving back to the community.”
In addition to the Chamber of Commerce building at 324 S. Main St., Pohlman said six artists will work to create six other murals on walls at Sumisu, 309 E. Center St.; Image Designers, 928 N. Main St.; SodaCADE, 1435 N. Main St.; Pub New Harmony, 134 Warren Ave; The Sand Trap, 2720 Bannock Highway and The Elwen Cottage; 334 N. Main St.
The SIXES Creative Studio was previously situated in a hole-in-the-wall spot between Star Route Brewery and The Bacon Experience on North Main Street before a fire heavily damaged the shop in February.
Pohlman said Mural Fest was born last year to facilitate a more dynamic way for those at the SIXES shop to interact with the community and to help put the creative space on the map for local residents. Pohlman said he also spent about 15 years tagging train cars with illegal graffiti so Mural Fest also serves as a mechanism for local artists to showcase installation art in a way that adds value to a local business without breaking any laws.
“We have this awesome fun space at the SIXES Creative Studio but we wanted to draw up some type of event that allows us to both branch out a little bit and give back to the community,” Pohlman said. “My background is in illegal train graffiti so this is somewhat of a turning of the karma card so to speak.”
Someone who left Ogden for Pocatello roughly five years ago, Pohlman said the Gate City reminds him of the city he left in Utah in that it hasn’t quite figured out all of its bones yet but has the makings for a very vibrant art community.
“It took me probably two years to actually flesh out who was doing what around town because there just wasn’t this huge, great platform for art,” he said. “But Pocatello is actually a pretty vibrant town once you start peeling back the layers a little bit. There is actually tons of great art and music around town; you just really have to look to find the cool stuff.”
SIXES and its annual Mural Fest isn’t about owning the local creative scene, but is more about leading by example and “owning our involvement in the scene,” Pohlman added.
Much like the idea behind the studio on Yellowstone, Pohlman is hopeful the addition of professional-grade murals throughout the city sparks the creative bug in others around town. He added that the space on Yellowstone, which was recently adorned with a 30-foot mural of WWE Hall of Famer Randy 'Macho Man' Savage, is available to use by local artists or musicians looking for a space to practice.
“Maybe a tattoo artist needs a space for a few hours each week to set up his stuff or some graphic artists are looking for a rad location to come and collaborate on a project together,” Pohlman said.
The all-night party on June 25 will feature the band SpudMother as well as several local DJ’s playing music with a BBQ food truck serving up some grub. The event will feature a meet-and-greet with the artists involved with Mural Fest with some of their own personal artwork on sale and available to observe.
Additionally, the event will feature a local tattoo artist providing “get what you get” flash tattoos where patrons throw a dart at a wall with several balloons that have a tattoo design inside and the cost will be around $40 to $50 per tattoo, Pohlman said.
“We will basically be hanging out from 5 p.m. until the sun comes up,” Pohlman said.
Pohlman and the SIXES crew don’t just specialize in murals. The group prides itself as being proficient in numerous installation art mediums. In the past, the crew has completed art pieces on an old Ford Model A door for distillery and Pohlman had also modified an older antique door for a brothel.
“Basically murals are an offshoot of installation art,” Pohlman said. “But you could consider sculptures, advertising pieces and projects that are more than just paint on a canvas as installation art, so long as the piece becomes somewhat of a fixture that is installed in a public, or viewable space.”
Pholman is beyond stoked to bring Mural Fest back to the Gate City for the second annual year and is hopeful the community art pieces inspire future artists to consider trying something new or stepping somewhat out of their comfort zone.
“We want people to know that these are the type of projects we specialize in at the SIXES Creative Studio and we hope this starts the conversation about helping each other bolster the creative community in Pocatello,” Pohlman said, adding that“because it’s there, it just hasn't had a ton of dedicated resources to showcase it yet.”