Sean Johnson
Post Independent Intern
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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June 8, 2009
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Muralist strikes again in Glenwood Springs

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - A man, a professor, an artist, and most prominently, a muralist.

Fred Haberlein displays his art with his heart. His logo is a heart with a lightning bolt, letting him coin the nickname "Lightning Heart."

Haberlein is kind of a big deal around the valley with much of his art on display, but not in the typical fashion. Fred, the "Lightning Heart Muralist," paints murals that become the community's just as much as they are his.

Fred stands about 5-feet-11-inches tall wearing a brown cowboy hat, dressed in blue jeans with a long sleeve shirt to match. A rollerbrush is in his hand, he looks at his mural, thinks about what is needed, focuses, and goes after his painting like a kid after cake.

His current project located on the side of Colorado Mountain College Gallery and District Office at Ninth and Grand is on its way to become a breathtaking scene of Blair Mountain and other scenes from the Flat Tops Wilderness area.

The specific scene will include the Marvine and Trappers peaks with the South Fork of the White River running through the middle.

The creation of this mural will take Haberlein about three weeks and 30 gallons of paint. He first drew the whole scene out and then started adding color around June 3.

There are two main points when drawing a mural, Haberlein said. The main point, which in this case will be Trappers Peak, is where the viewer will look the most. Since the wall is directly adjacent to the Ninth and Grand traffic light people in their vehicles will be able to look over and see Trappers Peak first. The second point draws the viewer in and guides them along the mural whether driving or walking.

Fred begins by adding color with the rollerbrush and letting the paint soak into the wall. After all the color is added Fred goes back over the mural with brushes to add detail and make the painting pop. The shapes have to be sharp and look clean at a quick glance because many viewers will be in their cars driving by.

Debbie Crawford, public information officer for CMC, believes that having Haberlein paint the mural really shows the caliber of instructors that the college has. Crawford thinks the mural is adding a lot to the aesthetic value of downtown Glenwood.

"It is contributing to the vibrancy of downtown for locals and tourists alike," Crawford said.

Haberlein enjoys the fact that the mural will belong to everyone. He wants to create a piece of art that celebrates one of the best parts or where people in the community live. Fred, who lives in the No Name area, believes the point of art is reminding people of where they live and why they are so lucky to live there.

Fred has painted 129 murals throughout the West over his career. Thirteen of those murals have been destroyed through the years whether by being painted over or the building being demolished. Even though it hurts a little, Fred has a parental outlook on all of his murals.

"They're sort of like kids," Haberlein said. "You do your best and let them go. If something needs fixing and I'm around, I'll do it."

His first mural was in Oracle, Ariz., back in 1977 on Mother Cody's Cafe. Fred painted two murals on opposite sides of the building, "Desert Night" and "White Buffalo - The Stampede." Sadly, both works are no longer in existence but Haberlein's passion was only ignited by his first experience in the place he describes as a hippy community.

Fred loves his job as a muralist because it allows him to travel. He loves the fact that the people are great and they are happy for a creative change. The murals he creates become an identity for the town because they always have a regional significance.

He retired two years ago from teaching at CMC but he still teaches now and then as an adjunct professor, further developing his love for art by passing it on to the next generation.

And the next community and the next building.


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The Post Independent Updated Jun 8, 2009 02:12AM Published Jun 8, 2009 02:09AM Copyright 2009 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.