Community art in motion
Ryan Summerlin June 29, 2007
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. ” To Renick Stevenson, a mural isn’t just a pretty picture on a wall.
Stevenson, artist-in-residence at the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, sees a mural ” such as the art project under way at the Glenwood Springs Branch Library ” as a way to bring a community together.
He views a mural as an opportunity for neighbors to work elbow-to-elbow, becoming better acquainted as their creativity flows.
“That’s the important thing, is having people talk to each other,” Stevenson said.
As part of the project Stevenson is working with youth ” including a core group of children ages 9-18 ” to explore Glenwood’s past and present. A small gathering, which included members of the Garfield County Libraries Teen Advisory Group, met this week to brainstorm ideas for the mural.
“It’s a way for people to examine their own value systems,” Stevenson said. “I tell them their values aren’t right or wrong, they just are. This (mural) will belong to them.”
One way Stevenson is helping mural artists and volunteers share thoughts and beliefs is through team-building exercises. On Wednesday afternoon, participants spread out in the basement to draw and sketch ideas with colorful markers in a timed exercise involving a range of music.
“In essence, they are showing the past, present and future of Glenwood ” the pathways, doorways and bridges,” Stevenson said. “This is a way to get them to work together, and not be territorial about things. “
A long, white horizontal sheet of paper was stretched out on a table, divided into eight sections. Stevenson allowed volunteers several minutes to draw images representing whatever they were feeling as the different music played. After each song stopped, artists would move on to another panel.
“It’s something to do to be active and it’s nice to add more artwork in Glenwood,” said 13-year-old Hannah Padgett, a student at Glenwood Springs Middle School. “You can just be creative.”
As Stevenson changed the CD from Native American music to a bluesy live recording of Fleetwood Mac from Chicago, he spoke of other mural projects he has spearheaded as a commissioned artist. He worked in Battle Creek, Mich., helping the young and old come together toward a mission of creating a mural.
“They started realizing there’s no difference between their blue and purple hair,” he said. “This is cross-generational and everything.”
Stevenson has been commissioned to paint two murals in Glenwood Springs by the end of the summer. One will hang at City Hall and the other in the Glenwood Springs Library. Painting for the library mural starts mid-August and will be completed by the end of the month, Stevenson said.
The general public is invited to help paint the mural panels, and all ages are welcome. Contact Pam Robinson at 945-5958 to volunteer.
Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. 16601