Colombia-based artist Iván Salazar painted a mural in August for Juneau Urgent & Family Care located at 8505 Old Dairy Road. (Courtesy photo / Iván Salazar)

Colombia-based artist Iván Salazar painted a mural in August for Juneau Urgent & Family Care located at 8505 Old Dairy Road. (Courtesy photo / Iván Salazar)

Colombian artist paints salmon mural as symbol for Alaska

“It has been the sustenance for all generations…”

There’s something fishy hanging from the walls of Juneau Urgent and Family Care.

Iván Salazar, a Colombian artist, painted a mural of a salmon in August for the hospital located at 8505 Old Dairy Road.

Salazar said when considering what to paint for the urgent care mural, he wanted to find the perfect symbol to represent the culture of Alaska. After doing extensive research, he said determined that the best representation he could find was that of the salmon because of the close relationship the state of Alaska has had with the fish in the past and maintained into the present day.

“I have always been interested in talking about identity in all the pieces I paint, for me it is fundamental that people feel attracted to the murals I do and not only attracted by their graphic and visual impact, but also to connect with features of their history and identity, in this case the salmon is a symbol that interested me, because it is transversal to all cultures and the history of Alaska, it has been the sustenance for all generations and it is known worldwide as the environmental wealth that this region has.”

Colombia-based artist Iván Salazar chose to use the salmon for his mural a representative symbol for not only Juneau, but the entire state of Alaska. (Courtesy photo / Iván Salazar)

Colombia-based artist Iván Salazar chose to use the salmon for his mural a representative symbol for not only Juneau, but the entire state of Alaska. (Courtesy photo / Iván Salazar)

Many of the colors chosen for the mural Salazar said were directly inspired by the pink and red colors found within the salmon itself, which he said he wanted to use as a way of representing the salmon’s inner energy.

“The different shades of red I used, I think it’s so strong to represent the meat of the fish that is really like the color salmon but I preferred to transform it into something with more energy with the other shades of red,” Salazar said. “I also always really like to paint with a black background because for me black is a color that I love a lot and I also think that in the shadows of my pieces is where you can find the real thing; of course the fish is there and you can see it, but there’s more volume when it’s around black and also that red, it focuses your view on it more I think.”

Salazar said the reason he was chosen to paint the mural was because Dr. Norvin Perez called him personally to offer the job. Perez was a longtime fan of Salazar’s work, as Perez has lived in and visited Colombia. Salazar said the two talked about the project for a while until Salazar presented the idea of a mural that would capture the culture and communicate something about the identity of not only Juneau but Alaska as a whole.

“I saw Iván’s work and how people reacted to his art a few years ago, since then I have wanted to bring the same experience as a gift to our community in Juneau,” Perez said.

Salazar is both a photographer and designer who focuses on urban art and large-scale murals. Salazar said his work starts from photography that he then uses to build large stencils that eventually become the unique pieces he creates. Salazar said that oftentimes his artistic proposals will be based on identity as a transversal concept.

In his home in Cali, Colombia, Salazar is the founder and director of the Culata Arte e Investigación Foundation, launched in 2015, which is dedicated to working with communities using urban art as a tool for social transformation. Salazar has participated in urban art projects and festivals internationally in Colombia, Norway, Uruguay, Argentina and the United States and as a traveling artist, he said he hopes to never live in one location for too long.

“I don’t want to live in any place because I’m an artist, so I travel a lot. Cali in Columbia is my home and it’s where I come to regroup and organize my schedule, but then I go to any place they want me to do a mural,” Salazar said. “But I do want to go back to Alaska and also in the winter time; I was talking with Eaglecrest, I’d like to do something with them, possibly if it can work out someday.”

Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at

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