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Concrete Couch director Steve Wood talks about what was involved in the tile mural project during its unveiling at the back of the Old Colorado City Library parking lot May 16.
Westside Pioneer photo

Old Colorado City Library unveils finished tile mural; community participation lauded

People who worked on the mural project pose in front of a portion of it in the Old Colorado City Library parking lot during the unveiling ceremony May 16.
Westside Pioneer photo
       A ceremony May 16 unveiled the final form of a community-created tile mural in the Old Colorado City Library parking lot.
       Featuring a combination of well over 1,000 commercial and custom-made tiles along the once-blank concrete walls lining the lot's rear pedestrian ramp, the project involved dozens of volunteers, overseen by the library and contractor Concrete Couch.
       “This was truly an all-inclusive, community-designed and created project that continues to build community through art,” writes Library Manager Jocelyne Sansing in a guest column for the Westside Pioneer. “These unique tiles represent so much more than pieces of fired clay. They represent the development of all the volunteers who participated in the project and unleashed their individual creativity,
A section of the mural displays a variety of customized tiles mixed in with commercial tiles.
Westside Pioneer photo
allowing them to have a voice in the process and a permanent stamp in their neighborhood.”
       “We used the concrete as a canvas,” said Steve Wood, the director of Concrete Couch, a nonprofit arts organization. “It is never possible to make everyone ecstatically happy about a project, but I feel we have done a nice job of addressing the architecture, history and function of the library and its environs.”
       The unveiling culminated coordinated group brainstorming sessions and tile-making starting in late February. Along with contractor and library staffers, volunteers consisted of local individuals and entities, including West Middle School, the Little School on Vermijo and the Westside Community Center. Numerous children participated, after learning skills from Concrete Couch staff. Actual installation, in which the tiles were mortared onto the ramp walls, occurred on numerous work days that dodged the rainy weather between late April and mid-May.
       Sansing and her staff had developed the mural concept, preparing a request for quotes that resulted in Concrete Couch being awarded the project contract last fall. As she elaborates in her guest column, “we were aiming for the creation of a community arts program that would offer people a chance to interact with artists, to learn new skills, to participate
An owl is featured in the center of a tiled section.
Westside Pioneer photo
collaboratively and to practice their own skills. A project such as this gives people a voice to speak out and express themselves, puts them in touch with their heritage and history and helps give definition to community identity.”
       The informal ceremony attracted a small crowd of onlookers, as well as about 30 of the participants. Tarps were pulled off for effect, although library attendees and passersby had been able to see the work going on in the preceding weeks.
       Project participants posed for pictures while admirers milled about, viewing the individual tiles and their arrangements.
       Sansing noted that as part of the project a log was kept, which is available in the library, 2418 W. Colorado Ave. It includes the tile-makers' names, descriptions of their tiles and where they are on the walls.
       The project left two noticeable wall areas blank - one in the parking lot near the base of the ramp and the other along the segment leading up to the alley.
       Asked about this, Wood replied in an e-mail that “as far as the blank areas, as designers, blank areas are never just blank areas… Highlighting the bold triangle, which reinforces the architecture of the rampways, (and plays with the reverse triangle below) seemed to us to be the best artistic use of the space.”
       There currently is no write-up explaining individual tiles or overall messages that the artists hoped to convy, but Wood said that may be put together at a later date. Some tiles include quotes from different authors; images of animals, people or items; and even a replica of the 1859 Fosdick plat map for Colorado City.
       The $14,000 project costs were paid with available library funds, according to Sansing. Project specifications called for a final product that would require no maintenance.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 5/21/15, updated 5/23/15; Community Old Colorado City Library)

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