Rifle Middle School students create mural of Rifle area
Citizen Telegram Editor
Sometime this summer, Rifle residents and visitors will be able to view a colorful portrayal of the city and its environment, as seen through the eyes of some talented Rifle Middle School students.
Chris McLean, an artist and the school’s art club sponsor, teaches English language learners at the middle school. He said each student designed a portion of a 4-foot-high by 16-foot-long mural.
Nine students in grades 5-8 began designing the mural in January, and they work on it during the Second Shift Access Roaring Fork after-school program, he said.
“Being a teacher, you always wants kids to have something more than just a babysitting service” after school, McLean said. “If they show an interest in art, programs like this can really help get it entrenched in their lives and sharpen their artistic skills.”
McLean said he met with Rifle City Planner Nathan Lindquist and Main Street program coordinator Dana Ingram, who want to see more murals put up in the city to help make it more eye catching. A second mural created by other students is in the planning process.
Ingram said the Main Street program supplied the art materials for the mural. No tax money was involved, she added.
“The goal we had in mind was to continue the beautification efforts in the downtown area,” Ingram added. “The theme is to involve public art and getting youth involved in that, too. It gives everyone a sense of ownership and puts more value to the work.”
McLean said the students are very proud of the mural. Some have brought their parents into the art room to see it.
“They know they are making something special, and it’s always exciting to see the results from something like this,” he said. “The effort they put forth into this is something they can carry forward into life. They learn that hard work here can pay off.”
“Another big positive for the kids in this is to refine their art skills and have such a large audience for their art work,” McLean continued. “Everyone will have a chance to see this. And the community gets to see what’s happening in the schools.”
The image represents Rifle’s wildlife and history, with an eagle, a bear, a trout, along with the sun, Columbine flowers, and a person sitting next to a river. That last image represents the story of how Rifle was named, when a cowboy left his rifle next to a tree by a creek and had to return to retrieve it. The mural also includes Rifle Falls, an outline of the Bookcliffs and a Ute Indian arrow to pay homage to the people who lived in these lands long ago.
McLean said he plans to have the students finish the mural by the end of the school year on May 29.
“I’d like to see a real culture of art develop in Rifle,” he added. “It gives you a good sense of pride and opens your eyes to different things you might not have encountered before. And I think it just makes a community stronger.”
The mural was first planned to be installed along the path through Centennial Park, then near the Brenden Theatres, or possibly attached to a private business, if owner permission is obtained.
Lindquist said once the mural is finished, the best location will be found.
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