"Some of my best ideas come when I'm sleeping," explains Viva manager Dennis Lorencz. In this case, Lorencz recently was dreaming of the old-town markets in Mexico. "The walls were covered in art."
Lorencz contacted a handful of local Latino artists, including Jimmy Lucero, Lee Madrid, Juan Carlos Andrade and Dominique Suazo. "I gave them some ideas and they took it from there," he says.
The result is four brilliantly colored murals in the store.
"He wanted something that would make the people proud of who they are," says Lucero, a noted local artist with a fine-art master's degree from the University of Utah. The vibrant panels are a celebration of family life, including piñatas, dance and niños.
A shopping trip to a Latino market is more of a community social event, rather than simply buying groceries. That's why Viva will include a restaurant, small merchants and a flea market. "For Latinos, it's not a place to pick up some groceries and go," Lucero says. "It's a gathering place. It's about people."
Andrade, who grew up in Puebla, Mexico, drew upon deeply rooted cultural images, including an Aztec calendar. Workers finishing the interior of the store have been captivated by the images. "Juan Carlos' work really connects with people's past," Lucero says. "It hits them in their heart."
Lorencz asked the artists to include on the murals a statement of their purpose:
"These murals show our pride in our culture and heritage. They celebrate our past and hopefully our future. … Hard work and education will strengthen our community and will help our children gain access to the American dream."
He's delighted with the artwork. "They're terrific," he says. "Now there is culture inside the store. Our first- and second-generation customers are going to see the murals and it's going to give them comfort."
Lorencz is awaiting final permit approval to open the Viva Market, which is expected to happen today.