Noted muralist Fred Haberlein remembered
See his work
Mural artist Fred Haberlein’s work is on display throughout Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. The following are just a few examples of his local work. Visit our interactive map of these sites, and add your own photos of Haberlein’s work.
- Glenwood Community Center (paintings and indoor mural)
- Former CMC building at Ninth Street and Grand Avenue (Flattops Wilderness)
- City Hall (oil paintings)
- Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park (mural)
- Dinkel Building, Carbondale (mural)
- National Transmission, Glenwood Springs (mural)
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Mural artist Fred “Lightning Heart” Haberlein has left a literal mark on Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and many other western towns. Haberlein died Monday, leaving behind wife Teresa Platt, brother Bill, son Kort, daughter-in-law Sandy, grandchildren West and Ryan and 140 pieces of public art.
“Fred was a very gentle and evolved soul, and his heart was as big as the world. He spread love wherever he went,” said retired Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts Executive Director Gayle Mortell.
Mortell met Haberlein through Thomas Lawley, who was executive director of the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities (now Carbondale Arts).
Haberlein was a central figure at Mountain Fair, Carbondale’s annual arts and music festival. He opened the event each year for three decades.
“Fred was an intrinsic part of the Mountain Fair, long before I came on board,” said Carbondale Arts Executive Director Amy Kimberly. Carbondale Arts oversees the annual gathering. “We saw him as kind of the fair shaman. He blessed us, and the fair, every year with his joy and love.”
Haberlein grew up in southern Colorado on a ranch on the Conejos River. Native American culture played an important role in his life, including his late Navajo foster brother, Jacky.
Haberlein received the name Lightning Heart from the Yaqui tribe during a 1972 vision quest in Arizona.
“They felt my heart was like lighting, bright with love, ready to be shared wherever I went,” Haberlein said in the book “The Murals of Colorado: Walls that Speak” by Mary Motian-Meadows and Georgia Garnsey.
For more than four decades, Haberlein attended the Yaqui tribe’s spring ceremonies, a celebration of the return of light after winter.
“Through this ritual the Yaquis have taught me what it means to keep a sacred vow, and so every year, no matter what, I join them in celebrating the return of life,” Haberlein said earlier this spring to Immigrant Stories columnist Walter Gallacher. “I join them in celebrating the return of life. It’s a pilgrimage for me.”
Haberlein said the annual ceremony reignited his passion for the surrounding landscape, which was often evident in his paintings. His murals are scattered throughout Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. He began painting them while in Arizona, where he attended graduate school at the University of Arizona. He returned to Conejos Ranch in 1984 before he and Platt relocated to Glenwood Springs in 1988.
Recently, he had been battling esophageal cancer, which he talked about in an Immigrant Stories interview with Walter Gallacher for a story that appeared in the Post Independent last month.
“His loss is immeasurable,” Mortell said. “He imprinted his heart on everyone he ever met. He painted the most beautiful scenes of the west that will spark the imaginations of generations to come.”
Haberlein painted many murals, indoor and out, that adorn buildings in Glenwood and Carbondale. Haberlein also taught for 18 years at Colorado Mountain College.
The family requests contributions to the Fred Haberlein Documentary Fund in lieu of flowers. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 963-1680. Donations will help see the film to completion.
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