Pioneer Book received a bold new look, adding a mural to its storefront.
The mural, painted on two different buildings, shows larger-than-life books on a bookshelf. Painting the mural was not an easy task to accomplish, according to artist Alicyn Wright, who has done decorative painting for 18 years and whose work can be found on www.justfaux.com.
“I’m not afraid to take on anything,” she said.
The buildings were in disrepair before any work could be done. Cement was falling off, and raw wood was exposed between the buildings, according to Wright.
Provo officials offer a Downtown Facade Grant meant to assist downtown Provo businesses in improving the appearance of their buildings, according to the city’s website. Some of the buildings in downtown Provo are at least 30 years old and have not received any remodels.
“[Provo] will give this grant to businesses in downtown Provo to help spruce up their facade,” said Travis Patten, who has managed the bookstore for five years. “That paid for a lot of this. So that was really nice.”
Patten said his inspiration and concept for the mural came from libraries with a similar design, like one in Kansas City and even one in Ukraine. He began collaboration with Wright and architect Scott Bingham in February, and the work finally came to life July 14.
Wright and her team specialize in faux painting, like marble or wood grain, and had never done anything this large before. She said her team is comprised of self-taught artists who just love and care about what they do.
The artists began at 4:30 a.m., putting up tarps to give them shade in the 100-degree weather. The mural was completed in six days, with a combined total of more than 540 man hours.
Wright said it really made it worth it when a woman with the city told her it far exceeded their expectations. The mural received more than 40,000 likes on Facebook within the first week it was posted.
“We appreciated the opportunity to do it. I love unique things and to be challenged,” Wright said.
The books featured on the mural include popular titles like “Les Miserable,” “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Lord of the Rings.”
Pioneer Book is not just special on the outside. The familiar smell of paper books lingers inside, and visitors can enjoy the comfortable atmosphere of the store, finding places to read in front of the large window on the first floor or in the quiet meeting room of the second floor.
Christopher Hurtado, full-time employee at Pioneer Book, loves the new design of the store, which features a large floor-to-ceiling display case of rare and autographed books.
“They used to be in a room under lock and key. You couldn’t even go in there unless you had someone to take you,” Hurtado said. “This is one of the things we got out of having an architect do this.”
Another unique aspect of the store is the front desk. Patten used stacked books to build the desk, using no glue or damage to the books. “Because books are our friends,” Hurtado said.
Pioneer Book owners have plans to use the second building they own and hope to continue to invite people to the store.
Visit their website, pioneerbook.com, or even better, stop by, experience the new store and get lost in a book.