Provo street artist Leuven — whom I first reported on back in April — recently chatted with Gavin Sheehan of City Weekly. Though the beginning of the piece includes some broad generalizations about Provo, it quickly moves on to interesting information about Leuven’s background and objectives.
Leuven’s Jimmer piece, on 400 East.
Near the beginning of the interview, for example, Leuven reveals the origins of his name — it came from a trip he made to the eponymous Belgian college town — and, later, how he thought up the popular Provo bike image.
Leuven’s popular bike image, pasted to a metal box in downtown.
But a few especially important points from the interview stand out, at least in the context of this blog.
For starters, Leuven seems to spend a lot of time riding through the city on his bike, which is a great way to see what makes a city unique as well as what it lacks. If everyone did this, I suspect we’d have a better city.
It’s also no wonder, then, that Leuven also apparently tries to put up art on abandoned buildings and parking complexes. As I’ve been saying all along, street art beautifies otherwise ordinary spaces:
Leuven: I think when you offer people on the street something to think about, it makes the area so much more interesting. Street art can have an entertainment value. I don’t think it has to be political, but it is a powerful way to make a point. It seems like people pay attention to graffiti more than they do to flyers or advertisements.
Even more interesting is the fact that Leuven apparently thinks it’d be beneficial for Provo to become more artistic:
Gavin: What’s your opinion of our art scene as a whole and the impact it has on our community?
Leuven: There is a lot of talent. It would be cool if Provo suddenly transformed into this art hub in Utah. I think the city should get more involved in promoting art. It’s an investment, but I think it really pays off. I would love to see Provo get covered with street art.
If his artwork didn’t already make it clear, Leuven is clearly someone who is trying to make the community a more interesting, beautiful place.