Cultural Exploration Destinations North America

Hunting for Murals in Colorado Springs

If you are like me, you’ll find murals are very out of the ordinary pieces of art that require more vision than the usual canvas. The locations of murals are also fascinating to me as they are more often found on old buildings, under a bridge, alleyways, or even on sidewalks. Murals have been in existence since 300 B.C., and the Middle Ages in France. Later, in more modern days, murals were more in connection with the Mexican art movement. Today mural walls are painted with water or oil-based media, giving life to spaces that have lost their way.

As a photographer, I enjoy capturing mural images and transforming them into prints on canvas. The canvas gives the photograph texture, and typically the art has such intense clarity causing it to stand out, almost projecting a three-dimensional image. Several of these canvases are on display in my home. Many of our friends and guests often mistaken them for paintings and never thought of them as prints.  

Before heading to Colorado Springs I explored the internet and researched locations of murals in the city. One site I found most helpful in plotting my map and agenda is I knew if I found a few in a general location I would probably find many more. Our Airbnb rental, located in the Historical Northern End, was not far from many of the murals I wanted to see downtown. Traveling in front of Colorado College toward West Dale Street to Colorado Fine Arts Center, you could see sculptures by the different artists mounted on the ground. Make your way to the parking area to the museum and you will find a long wall with several murals on it called Arte Mestiza.

On East Dale Street toward N. Webster Street in an alley, we stumbled upon an Indian blanket called “Graffiti Art” by artist Jaque Fragua. The Native American rug patterns from various tribes are designed altogether in this painting which is how Native Americans feel they are identified rather as one and not by tribes.  

A few streets over, Tejon Street, which ran towards downtown, offered many murals to photograph while indulging in a scoop of ice cream from  Josh and John’s Naturally Homemade Ice Cream. Look up above the store to see a mural on the Burn’s Theater, built in 1912, home to many opera and theater performances through present time.

On the top of the Giddings & Company building is large mural telling the story of the former dry goods store that Edwin and Hester Giddings started in 1874. In 1898-1899 they built the then tallest building in Colorado Springs and the city’s first true department store at 101 N. Tejon. The dry goods item tickets on the mural are copies of memorabilia from the Giddings’ family private archives from the department store. The thread and button are an homage to the women of the Pikes Peak Region. Both the Burn’s Theater and Giddings & Co. murals are created by Kim Polomka.

South of Acacia Park is Nevada Street, which is home to Ecumenical Social Ministries. Above the entrance of the building is another mural by Kim Polomka. The mural depicts ESM clients receiving nurturing services and food. Another impressive painting by Polomka is the celebration of Mozart’s 250th birthday which is also located near Pikes Peak Ave.

Next to the First United Methodist Church is a small building called the Mission Art Center where you will find a mural depicting the celebration of the creation of the center painted by Amy Jean Jones.

Look above Poor Richard’s bookstore to find a mural created by Douglas Rouse. The image of “Banned Books” throughout history inspired by the owner’s support of intellectual freedom.

On the backside of Blue Star Restaurant: Happy Crowd (which it was difficult to locate) is a spirited view of cooks, servers, patrons, and others in a restaurant. On the west side of the building is a mural of wine being poured from a bottle with a vineyard in the background.

Not far from Blue Star Restaurant is Mountain Equipment Recyclers which has a painting of nature and the reason to visit the store created by Amanda Heck. On the south wall of Mountain Equipment Recyclers is a mountain scene with the Colorado flag by Perry Duncan and Will Lancaster.

Old Colorado City, on Colorado Avenue, located at  West Side Tattoo Shop is a large mural on both sides of the building. Drake “Drastik” Gann created the religious image of Mary and an angel with a white dove as a courtesy of Sacred Heart Catholic Church across the street. This may be one of the most colorful murals I have seen during my stay in Colorado Springs.

The city of Colorado Springs has taken every opportunity to allow and encourage artists to express their art and create colorful images throughout the community. One thing you may notice is that the traffic signal boxes downtown are also decorated with murals. Throughout the city, you will see that the community supports local arts and values its aesthetics by allowing the creative culture to prosper.  Although I have captured photographs of many murals throughout the city, there are many more to find. I encourage you to explore the arts in Colorado Springs and marvel at the talent on display throughout the city.


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