A colorful mural celebrating Durango was unveiled Friday at Durango Joes on College Drive.
It is the first public art display created by the Local First Creative Arts Initiative, which provides living wages to local artists, increases beautification efforts and helps to grow the arts community in Durango.
“We want to work with local business to put up art, and pair artists with businesses,” said Hayley Kirkman, creative arts coordinator for Local First.
The mural, called “Local is the Way,” is a 24-foot-long cityscape of Durango featuring words that detail the essence of the town such as “beer,” “coffee” and “Snowdown.”
“We set up boxes around town asking people to submit words describing what they love about Durango,” Kirkman said.
Subtleties include a bear digging through a trash can, a nod to the ill-fated Arc of History – “may it rest in peace,” Kirkman said – and a brewery.
She said the coffee shop’s west-facing wall was the ideal spot for the mural because it will be seen by people driving to Fort Lewis College.
“We started scouting businesses that might have benefited from public art,” she said. “It has great exposure and the owner was super open to it.”
Kirkman teamed up with local artists Sarah Sturm, Allie Wolfe and Dakotah Andreatta to create the mural over the span of about two months.
The project cost about $2,000 and had sponsors including Durango Joes, Studs Lumber and FLC.
“The goal was to raise enough money to pay the artists as well,” Kirkman said.
The mural at Durango Joes is just the beginning of efforts to create thought-provoking and beautiful works of art visible from the streets.
“We have other projects brewing for the summer,” Kirkman said. “We are interested in getting a diverse group of artists together.”
She said the Local First Creative Arts Initiative plans to apply for grant money through Durango Creates! for future projects.
Through Durango Creates!, the city grants money to businesses, nonprofits and other groups that want to organize creative projects or events.