Colorful murals and detailed sculptures have been cropping up all over downtown since May. As part of the Downtown Partnership’s annual Art on the Streets exhibit, art from around the country is brightening public spaces and challenging preconceptions with visual intrigue. It’s the perfect presentation of art in these days of COVID-19 and restricted indoor gatherings, and the gallery launch party and self-guided scavenger hunt bring more opportunities for outdoor, socially-distant fun. Here’s a preview of some of this year’s installations.
Take Back the Power
“Much of my work deals with Indigenous issues, protest and representation, occupying space in ways that are simultaneously beautiful, unexpected and difficult,” says Gregg Deal, a renowned Indigenous artist from Peyton. His 60-foot Take Back the Power mural depicts Deal’s 14-year-old daughter with a red handprint on the lower half of her face. The mural is a tribute to the #MMIWG2S campaign, which brings awareness to the high rate at which Indigenous girls, women and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ) are murdered or go missing.
Location: northeast corner of 3 N. Tejon St.
Acacia Park Abstract
Denver native and artist Jolt has spent much time in the Springs taking in the city’s well known natural landscapes, as well as its car and hip-hop culture. “I’ve learned a lot about the people and distinct culture of this city and have taken much inspiration from that,” Jolt says. The artist’s mural, Acacia Park Abstract, brings the vibrancy and energy of the city alive.
Location: Southwest corner of Downtown YMCA, 207 N. Nevada Ave.
The Whirlwind Juniper
Tom Benedict of Three Forks, Montana, brought new life to a fallen juniper tree. “In life, this tree likely lived for well over 500 years before eventually falling to the same elements of nature which caused it to twist and contour,” Benedict says. Taking the core of the tree, Benedict accentuated its twists and contours by blackening the wood with a torch.
Location: Southeast corner of Tejon St. & Platte Ave. at Acacia Park
This impressive steel sculpture is an ode to the hostility that marginalized groups, such as the poor, the disabled and the elderly, face when interacting in society. “Raising a son with autism, I have experienced how the physical and philosophical structures of our society interfere with the lives of marginalized groups,” says Greensboro, North Carolina, artist Matthew Carlson. Using steel and sharp edges, Carlson creates mutually opposing senses of curiosity and hostility. “The sculpture is inviting but also feels dangerous, as though it could hurt you at any moment,” Carlson says.
Location: On the median on Pikes Peak Ave. between Tejon St. and Nevada Ave.
Visit this sculpture and be greeted by a “guardian of home and dwelling,” says artist Jade Windell of Loveland. The piece looks like it came right out of a fairytale, with an ever-ominous eye and large, swirly lips. “Sentry gives the impression of having risen from the earth like an otherworldly messenger,” Windell says.
Location: In the flowerbed on the southeast corner of Cascade Ave. and Platte Ave.
Artist Matthew Duffy of Washington, D.C., frequently uses universally understood symbols and objects to convey deeper, more nuanced meaning. Here, Duffy created a sun that is abstracted to represent a saw, meant to remind us of the capacity of solar energy. “Note how the positioning of this sculpture points out the changing nature of the sun in the sky, moving from the peachy yellow of the sun as it rises in the east to the deep red of the sun as it sets in the west,” Duffy says.
Location: South end of median at the intersection of Cascade Ave and Kiowa St.
Encore from 2019-2020 Art on the Streets collection
“This mural comes from a place of light-hearted absurdity,” says artist Cymon Padilla, a Colorado Springs local. This fuchsia feline, content with its blue bananas, is wondrously reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.
Location: 14 S. Tejon St.
Urban Biosphere Fragmented
Encore from 2019-2020 Art on the Streets collection
Anyone who has spent time on the Front Range knows it as the perfect confluence of urban living and the wild, natural environment. Artist Kim Carlino of Easthampton, Massachusetts, embodies this sentiment in her mural Urban Biosphere Fragmented, where geometric shapes and leaves meet on a brick canvas. “I am interested in the human relationship to nature and the possibility it has to anchor us to place,” Carlino says.
Location: South and east exterior walls 19 N. Tejon St.
Join Art on the Streets Events
Don’t miss the 2020-21 Art on the Streets Launch Party on Aug. 7. From 5-8 p.m. there will be a passport guided scavenger hunt with giveaways, artist meet-and-greets and more at 13 different mural and sculpture locations. All participants must wear masks and register in advance.
If you can’t make it to the launch party, you can still explore the art on your own. Use a map of the locations or download Otocast, a free mobile audio guide app that let you listen to commentary from the artists.
Get all the info and details about Art on the Streets at downtowncs.com/aots