The Writing’s Painting’s on the Wall: Leadville Murals.
By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
It’s really nothing new. Look closely and you can see the traces of the ghosts signs from long ago, used as advertising billboards, calling people in off the streets to purchase products.
The thing that has changed, is what is being painted. One hundred years ago, it was more functional; today, it’s about the artwork when it comes to Leadville murals.
By definition, a mural is any piece of artwork painted or applied directly on a wall, ceiling or other large permanent surface. A distinguishing characteristic of mural painting is that the architectural elements of the given space are harmoniously incorporated into the picture.
Lately, there has been a lot of conversation and interest in this form of art, and its importance within the community. After all, Leadville has a lot of big, old buildings gracing its main street, so the canvases are there. And an artist doesn’t have to look very far to get inspired, between the scenery and the history, there’s an endless supply of subject matter.
So, here’s a quick review of what’s on display, what’s coming next, and how you can help when it comes to Leadville murals.
The aspen-tree-themed mural Fritz Howard owner of Melanzana presented to Leadville City Council, back in 2010 was enthusiastically received. Fritz even joked at the meeting that it would give the city cops something beautiful to look at, since the Leadville Police Department sits directly across from the aspen-inspired scene on the northeast corner of 8th and Harrison.
But it was Leadville artist Amanda Good who put her magic touch to the piece, that had the mountain scene capturing people’s attention as they rounded the corner from the north end onto the main drag.
And Good continues to create beautiful murals in these parts. In fact, along with fellow art teacher Erin Farrow, Ann Stanek, the Leadville Arts Coalition, and lots of help from Lake County students, the unique “seasonal” mural on the bathroom building at the Community Park was created. To read the FULL STORY.
Video of the Community Park’s Seasonal Mural [youtube A bit further south on Highway 24, The Sage Café in Granite recently painted an “Upper Arkansas Valley” sunset scene on the north side of their building. This work was done by Edwards artist Paige Clark and was completed in just a few days! By the way, the café is open for the season Tues – Sun, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Closed Mondays). So, be sure to stop in for a bite when you’re checking out the enormous new artwork.
The most recent mural to pop up on Harrison Ave. is being painted by Leadville artist BA Dallas on the boards covering up the old Sayer & McKee Building, which collapsed under the heavy snow this past winter. The vibrant colors and majestic mountains clearly define the surrounding beauty Dallas used for inspiration. Art lovers will continue to see the fine details filled in on this piece, which should be completed some time this week.
Some residents expressed concerns that the mural’s appearance might secure the boards’ future, a sign that there is no forward movement on fixing the structure. Fortunately, according to Leadville Realtor Carol Glenn, the building is currently under contract and the sale is anticipated to close within the next 30 days.
Oh, and this mural was a true gift to the city, with the paint being contributed by an anonymous donor and Dallas giving his time and talents at no cost!
The most notable Ladies of Leadville mural on the side of the Cycles of Life building was done back in the mid 1990s by artist F.F. Haberlein, dedicated to the people of Leadville. The “Accountant” lettering along the side was added in the early 2000s by present owner Kellee and KC Corti; he’s the Accountant.
It’s important to note, that mural painting techniques have really changed in recent years. For murals like the Ladies of Leadville, there wasn’t as much information during installation about how the paint would interact with 100+-year-old brick.
And while the mural’s wear and tear is clearly starting to show, many experts agree that “touching up” the painting might actually accelerate the brick’s deterioration. Certainly something for building owners to consider when deciding what to do about a mural’s future. Touch it up? Remove it? Replace it? Today, many wall masterpieces are painted on large canvases, which are then attached to the wall. Whether these works can be accurately called “murals” is a subject of some controversy in the art world, but the technique has been in common use since the late 19th century. And on aging Leadville structures, this approach is considered best practice. Besides, it makes them easier to replace or change up.
The mural that will be going up on the north side of The Scarlet Bar will be utilizing some of these newer techniques. Local artist Lexie Palmore will start attaching the sculpture/mural around July 11, according to bar owner Lee Trujillo.
“We will start from the top with the PBR logo and painter,” explained Trujillo. From there, the characters at the bottom will be attached to the building. Palmore has already painted the characters, which were manufactured from the same material as interstate road signs. Each of the characters will be individually attached to the wall.
So what’s next? Are there more murals in the works for Leadville? And how can you help? Here’s some information provided by the Leadville Arts Coalition about another mural in the works.
On Friday, July 4, the Leadville Arts Coalition and Leomyka Gallery are partnering to raise money for a new building mural. Many local artists have donated artwork, jewelry, and ceramics for the silent auction, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on that day. All the silent auction funds will go towards a life-sized mural, celebrating one of Leadville’s premier winter events: ski joring.
The mural will be featured on the south side of the Leomyka Gallery building at 601 Harrison Avenue. Local artist Lexie Palmore has agreed to paint the mural, and fund raising has begun. Leomyka’s manager Rachel Ackerman expects donations from at least twenty-five of the gallery’s artists. Palmore’s original mural design and prints will also be available at the silent auction.
“The gallery’s mission is to bring art to the heart of the community, and this mural will be a treasure for everyone to share,” Ackerman reflected.
Drop by on July 4, check out Leomyka Gallery’s silent auction, and support this new community art project. Light refreshments will be available from 2-6 p.m.
So there you have it, Leadville is experiencing a revitalization of murals, a beautification of walls. Keep your eyes open for all of these new pieces of art, the next time you stroll down historic Harrison Avenue!