Local artist brings seniors, teens together for art’s sake
A Carbondale artist is about to embark on a project to paint a mural on a concrete wall, under the theme, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.”And to get started, artist Grace Johnson said, all she needs is a crew of volunteers at either end of the age spectrum, and a little help from some friendly donors.Johnson is working on a mural project that will involve senior citizens and high schoolers, taking an artistic look at the past, present and future of Carbondale.The wall, a concrete loading dock along the Rio Grande Trail, next to the Roaring Fork Transit Authority bus storage lot, is to be painted in three phases – one depicting the past, one depicting the present and the other depicting images that the collaborating artists feel might reflect the future of the community.”The goal of this project is to create a deeper understanding of community, diversity and respect among disparate groups,” Johnson wrote in a grant request to the Carbondale Public Arts Commission.Those disparate groups, she wrote, include “at risk youths from YouthZone, youths from local schools who are not clients of YouthZone, and seniors or elders from the Roaring Fork Valley.”YouthZone is a valleywide youth assistance and advocacy organization, with an office in Carbondale. At least some of the senior citizens, she said, will be from the Carbondale Senior Housing complex, also known as Crystal Meadows. And Johnson will work with another area artist, Gerry Michels, who recently finished a youth mural project at Colorado Mountain College.The images of the mural, Johnson said, will come entirely from the imaginations of the participants.Johnson holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo. She has taught art in Santa Fe, N.M., and directed a community art project in Monterey, Calif. That project, an eight-foot high maze depicting the evolution of the Julian calendar (the one we use today), was a seven-month effort that was up for only one night of civic celebration.”It felt like I kind of gave birth to a child and couldn’t keep it,” she said.For the current project, Johnson said, the seniors will collaborate among themselves to come up with an image representing Carbondale’s past; the teenagers will tackle the present day; and the two groups will work together to create an image of the future.Johnson needs between eight and 16 senior citizens, and about the same number of teenagers. She has made presentations this week to the different locations and organizations involved, including Crystal Meadows, High Country RSVP in Glenwood Springs, and YouthZone. She expects to have all the participants signed up and to begin the design of the project on June 1, with completion scheduled before next fall.”I really want to allow the people who are participating … to be involved from research to design to application,” she said.She is not necessarily looking for participants with previous artistic experience, she said, noting that she expects to instruct as many as necessary in the basic artistic techniques to be employed in the project.Johnson is the proprietor of the Artists Resource Center at 579 Main St., and is seeking donations to get to the $20,000 total she believes will be needed to fund the project. Donations can be made to the Carbondale Public Arts Commission/Mural Project, 511 Colorado Ave., Carbondale, CO, 81623. Or call Johnson at 618-1399 for additional information about her project.”There’s a possibility the mural won’t happen if we don’t get funding,” Johnson said.
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Visual Journalist Chelsea Self can be reached at 970-384-9108 or firstname.lastname@example.org