The man who painted that building off Highway 24
For four years, Drake Gann has spray-painted a mural on a storage building at the end of 11th Street, by the Midland Trail just north of Highway 24. Each time when he's started, someone has called the police, forcing Drake to explain to authorities that he has permission from the building owner.
This is not unusual for a graffiti-style artist in modern times, when criminal gangs, also using spray-paint, “tag” buildings with special symbols as a way of defining territory.
But Drake, West Side Tattoo artist who has also created exterior-wall murals on that building, hopes that most people can see the difference. “I try to get people more into the art side of it,” he said. “It has nothing to do with gangs.”
The 11th Street building especially draws attention because of the trail and the highway.
Every year's scene has been different, Drake said, but his current mural, covering two of the shed walls, is actually quite personal, featuring himself, his girlfriend, his child, dogs he's owned and even food he likes. The word “Family” appears in letters about six feet tall.
His own image in the mural is active - “It's me blowing kisses at the things I love,” he explained. “Everything I love in life, I wanted to put on the wall.”
In a letter to the Westside Pioneer, local resident Barbara Hitchcock writes, “Dozens of people inspect it daily. It's just a great piece of art work - unusual, but typical of the Westside.”
The way the mural project started four years ago, Drake talked to the owner of the building, who was irked that it was “getting tagged all the time.” Interestingly, the taggers now leave the building alone. “It's a form of respect,” Drake said.
He likes to put messages in his murals. The one on the south side of West Side Tattoo says, “One man's trash is another man's treasure”; the one on the east side, which has 9/11 theme, states, “Colorado remembers.”
The 11th Street mural reads, “Happiness is only real when it's shared.”
Another large inscription on the 11th Street painting is “Drastik Measures,” which references the name for Drake's mural business.
What will his next 11th Street mural look like? He isn't sure. In fact, he's thinking of putting it off a while. “I might leave it for another year because of my girl friend and my kid,” he said.
In any case, whenever Drake does decide to work on the mural again, he said he plans to tell the police about it himself this time... before he gets started.
Westside Pioneer article