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Class on a rooftop, or along a clean, available wall

Community Painting course allows art students to study and create the murals of Denver.

September 21, 2016

Photo: Sara Hertwig
Photo: Sara Hertwig

By Meghanne Shipe

On a hot summer day in Denver’s Santa Fe Art District, students walk across the roof of Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, wiping the sweat away with one hand while holding a paint brush in the other.

Community Painting: The Mural, the brainchild of Carlos Fresquez, gives dedicated art students an exciting and distinctive opportunity to paint murals throughout the Denver community.

“The greatest thing about this class is the mood of it,” said Fresquez. “The students bring so much of their own personalities to each project and I get to see them share that in their painting.”

Their work begins in the classroom. After surveying the history of murals and the mural movement, Fresquez’s students create a series of designs and concepts to propose to chosen agencies and businesses throughout the Denver metro area.

Students must collaborate on the research and the designs, not always an easy task for artists.

“As students, we discuss our ideas on what works and offer opinions on what doesn’t work so well,” explained student Amanda Gilleland, who was wearing a sun hat that day on the roof of the Arts Center. “We just approach each other – we’re all friendly and open.

“I just like the fact that I get to do what I love every day of the week; and it’s fun working with all these artists, getting our ideas out.”

Fresquez’s class is scheduled from 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., but Gilleland and her fellow students have been showing up much earlier, because by 11 a.m. the weather is just too hot for painting.

The students’ dedication to produce the highest quality of work is obvious. As the pieces of the mural begin to come together, the Chicano indigenous-inspired theme comes to life.

“We wanted to stick to the culturally indigenous theme of the rest of the building,” Gilleland said. It’s inspired by Huehuecóyotl, the god of music, dance and mischief.

“As far as the theater goes, he’s a good representation. [Points] On the other side, that deity represents earth, and keeping culture alive. A couple of us are Latina, so it pays homage to where you’re from.”

Community Painting: The Mural

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