Aurora Creative Arts District mural work aims to unify neighborhoods ahead of Stanley Marketplace opening

“It’s really intended as a community engagement project, so we’re looking for an artist who will work with us in terms of inviting members of the community to participate in the actual painting,” Bloom said.

AURORA | Flashes of color are set to begin popping up on walls and streets in north Aurora in the coming months as city officials prepare to solicit a slew of new murals to brighten up the Aurora Cultural Arts District and connect the area with the forthcoming Stanley Marketplace.

The city’s Art in Public Places Commission issued a call to artists last week for a new street mural that could span up to two city blocks on Clinton Street, between East Montview Boulevard and East 23rd Avenue. Intended to be impermanent, the image will be splashed onto the street itself, totaling up to 40,000 square feet of asphalt, according to Roberta Bloom, public art coordinator for the city.

Michael Ortiz and Jonathan Lamb, of Like Minded Productions, paint the side of the Fletcher Gardens Apartments on Friday. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
Michael Ortiz and Jonathan Lamb, of Like Minded Productions, paint the side of the Fletcher Gardens Apartments in this 2015 file photo. The city is seeking artists for an impermanent series of murals in the Aurora Creative Arts District ahead of the opening of the Stanley Marketplace. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

“It’s really intended as a community engagement project, so we’re looking for an artist who will work with us in terms of inviting members of the community to participate in the actual painting,” Bloom said. “But it will get driven over and worn out, so this isn’t intended to be a permanent addition to the city’s art collection.”

Boasting a commission of $20,000, the city is asking that the eventual work include aviation themes to honor the Stanley building’s history in the industry, according to the project’s page on CallForEntry.com. The work is expected to be completed by Labor Day Weekend, which is when the forthcoming cultural bazaar with about 50 new businesses is expected to officially open in the city.

The project is being funded directly by the city and AIPP, instead of the city’s longstanding “percent-for-art” ordinance, which requires that 1 percent of the funding for development projects over $100,000 be earmarked for public art projects, according to Bloom.

The new mural project is intended to help unify the highly anticipated Stanley project with the city’s long-nefarious East Colfax corridor, which is crucial for the local arts district moving forward, according to Tracy Weil, managing director of the ACAD.

“I think it’s super important for us to be able to connect with the Stanley,” Weil said. “Looking at projects like The Source in RiNo, they really serve as a catalyst to be able to draw more people to the neighborhood … and to really start creating that sense of place.”

And even though the Clinton Street creation will be impermanent, Weil said that the project has the potential to set the tone for future branding efforts in the district.

“A lot of times murals aren’t long-term, but they can be pretty impactful,” he said. “And I love the idea of this one being on the street — it’s like a big blank canvas.”

Plans for the Clinton Street mural come as the ACAD vies to add several other colorful additions to the southern reaches of Adams County, according to Weil. He said that the district recently applied for a $180,000 grant through ArtPlace that would help fund the painting of about nine crosswalks between East Colfax and Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood. Deemed Cultural Crosswalks, Weil said that the goal is to have artists from the neighborhood’s various ethnic communities create designs for each of the crosswalks.

At the same time, the ACAD is in the process of raising $10,000 for the creation of a new mural on the east wall of Pasternack’s pawn shop on East Colfax. Weil said that the district has selected a local artist to design an image that promotes making healthy dietary choices.

“Murals are great because they bring the inside outside,” Weil said. “People know that there’s a cultural district here because when they drive through they see the murals. They’re a huge deal for us.”