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Photo: Shanna Lewis for KRCC
Muralist Valrie Eisemann is among the first four artists to work on the new levee wall in Pueblo, Colorado. She’s creating a mandala, KRCC reports.

Last month, I pondered the challenges presented over time by public art in the form of statues of historical figures. In the past, art that could last through the ages — Michelangelo’s “David,” for example, and the stone lions on the Greek island of Delos — was highly valued. Even painted frescoes were made to last, with pigments worked into plaster.

Nowadays, murals on buildings are proliferating, and I’m thinking that transitory art like that is a good idea. It’s OK for them to be painted over, worn out, or recreated with a new vision.

Today’s story is about a group of artists in Colorado doing just that.

Shanna Lewis reports for KRCC, “Bright colors have blossomed once again on the concrete face of Pueblo’s Arkansas River levee. Paintings are going up in an effort to reclaim a lost public art space and the title of the world’s largest outdoor mural.

“Muralist Valrie Eisemann of LaVeta is among the first of four artists to work on the new levee wall. Using paint donated by a local recycling company, as well as some that she bought herself, she’s creating a colorful mandala. …

“Muralists have to rope up for safety to work on the steeply sloped concrete. But that isn’t slowing any of them down.

“Each artist will bring their own unique vision and ideas to the project. Celeste Velazquez of Pueblo said her imagery is of a native woman that references the Azteca community, as well as Toltec and Olmec cultures.

“ ‘She’s going to have like four arms, almost like a shaman and there’s going to be the spirit Quetzalcoatl in the back of her in her native tent,’ Velazquez said.

“Puebloan Thomas Garbiso’s piece is a mountain view along I-70. … Aurora artist Kalyn Connolly’s design is of a deer with Colorado flora and fauna on its antlers, including columbines, crows and white butterflies.

“All the artists are excited to be among the first brush paint on the levee since construction to repair it started six years ago. … According to [artist and levee mural coordinator Cynthia Ramu], since the 1970s, hundreds of people helped create the murals that once lined the levee.

“ ‘Eventually, it became like a storybook for a lot of people,’ Ramu said. … Some of [the story] is literally underfoot because the concrete with the old murals was torn off during the repair project and then ground up and used to create a walking trail for the top of the levee. …

“She said, ‘I feel so excited at the possibility. It’s kind of like moving forward. It’s just endless possibility.’

Pueblo Arts Alliance director Karen Fogelsong agreed. … ‘One of my favorite things is to see beautiful art go on yucky cement,’ Fogelsong said. ‘So let’s put beauty on top of it. On viaducts on levees, on the sides of buildings, wherever we can make it beautiful.’

“Fogelsong thinks if Pueblo can regain the world record, it’ll draw tourists to the area to see it. The current record is held by a mural in South Korea that’s more than 254,000 square feet — so a lot of art is needed again to beat that.

“It could happen though. More applications for new murals are rolling in and creative energy is flowing along this part of the Arkansas River.”

More here.

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