Aurora seeking artistic entries for permanent 7/20 theater shooting memorial

“The members of the 7/20 Memorial Foundation have put our hearts and souls into this project,” Heather Dearman, vice chair of the 7/20 Memorial Foundation, said in a statement. “We could not be more excited to take the next step in creating a place where the community and those impacted by loss from the events of July 20, 2012 can remember loved ones, reflect, and seek comfort, strength, peace and hope.”

AURORA | The City of Aurora and the 7/20 Memorial Foundation Tuesday inched closer to erecting a permanent tribute for the victims of the Aurora theater shooting, after officials released a call for artistic entries online at

The permanent memorial will be located in a 2,500-square-foot portion of the Reflections Garden within the city’s Water-Wise Demonstration Garden,  located just south of the Aurora Municipal Center near the intersection of East Alameda Parkway and Chambers Road.

The massacre occurred on July 20, 2012.

20150720-Shooting Memorial-Aurora, Colorado

Twelve crosses stand as a memorial for the people killed in the theater shooting three years ago on Monday July 20, 2015 at the intersection of Alameda and Sable. Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel

Lonnie Phillips, Sandy Phillips

Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre massacre, talk with members of the media and display a T-shirt memorializing the twelve people killed in the attack, outside the Arapahoe County District Court following the day of closing arguments in the trial of theater shootings defendant James Holmes, in Centennial, Colo., Tuesday July 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Jane Dougherty, Dave Hoover, Tom Sullivan

File - In this April 13, 2015 file photo, Jane Dougherty, center, whose sister was killed in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in 2012, sits with Dave Hoover, left, and Tom Sullivan, both of whom lost close family members in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting, listening to testimony on bills aimed at undoing recent firearm laws, at the state Legislature, in Denver. After losing his son, Sullivan has worked to ensure others don’t experience his anguish. As was family tradition, Alex Sullivan had gone to the movies for his birthday, his 27th. Since then, Sullivan has become a dogged, plain-spoken advocate for gun control. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)

Colorado Shooting-Insanity Plea

FILE - In this July 27, 2012 file photo, crosses, flowers and other mementos of the victims of the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting are shown at sunrise with the movie theater in the background. Jury selection begins Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, in the trial of accused gunman James Holmes in the shootings at the Denver-area movie theater showing "The Dark Knight Rises" that left 12 dead and 70 wounded. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorneys have acknowledged he was the gunman but say he is mentally ill and was gripped by a psychotic episode when he opened fire in the theater. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)


Tokens of sympathy and grief pile around crosses at the makeshift memorial site across the street from Century 16 theater, July 22 near South Sable Boulevard and East Exposition Avenue, in Aurora. Greg Zanis came back a year after the shooting to place new handmade crosses in support of the Aurora shooting victims. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

morse recall

Tom Sullivan, who lost his 27-year-old son Alex in the Aurora theater shooting in July 2012, talks to Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, who lost their daughter Jessica Redfield Ghawi, 24, before they spoke to supporters of Colorado Senate President John Morse Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, in Colorado Springs, Colo. Relatives of three people killed in the mass shootings in Aurora and Newtown campaigned Wednesday for one of two Colorado state senators facing recall elections for their votes on gun control, while sheriffs who oppose the new gun laws rallied those hoping to kick both Democrats out of office. Colorado was the only state outside the East Coast to tighten its gun laws after last year's mass shootings, and the recalls are seen as a gauge of support for gun control in this battleground state. Gun-rights activists set up the state's first legislative recall elections after Morse and Giron's votes on gun control measures, including expanded background checks and a new limit on ammunition magazines. (AP Photo, The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

7/20 Vigil

Andrew Johnson hangs his hand and message on the healing wall, July 20 on the great lawn at the Aurora Municipal Center. Several activities and volunteer service projects were slated for July 20, 2013. As Aurora braced to face the difficult first-year anniversary of the theater shootings, organizations from across the metro area arrived in the city to offer support. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Jerri Jackson

Jerri Jackson, mother of Aurora, Colo. theater shooting victim Matthew McQuinn, shows her tattoo of his initials as she stands next to her car with decals in memory of her son in Springfield, Ohio on Sunday, July 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

In addition to including native plants, flowering trees and private seating areas, the Memorial Foundation is seeking an installation that creates an atmosphere of solace through artistic and natural symbols, according to the call for the entry.

“(The Foundation is) drawn to the spirituality inherent in natural phenomena such as wind, which can be both powerful and soothing; and sound, such as wind chimes, reflecting a sense of randomness,” according to the entry. “They are not limiting this opportunity to only solutions incorporating wind and/or sound. Poetry, the poetic and the written word could also be appropriate in this context.”

While water features, specific religious symbols and themes that promote controversy or violence should not be included in design proposals, additional seating components may be considered.

The city has already decided to incorporate 13 benches in the garden in honor of each person killed in the massacre.

“The members of the 7/20 Memorial Foundation have put our hearts and souls into this project,” Heather Dearman, vice chair of the 7/20 Memorial Foundation, said in a statement. “We could not be more excited to take the next step in creating a place where the community and those impacted by loss from the events of July 20, 2012 can remember loved ones, reflect, and seek comfort, strength, peace and hope.”

Dearman’s cousin, Ashley Moser, was paralyzed in the theater shooting, and Moser’s 6-year-old daughter, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, was killed in the attack. Moser’s injuries also caused her to lose an unborn child.

The process of installing a permanent memorial in honor of those affected by the July 20, 2012 theater shooting, which left 12 people dead and 70 more injured, has waxed and waned in the years since the tragedy. After several years of sluggish fundraising, the nonprofit 7/20 Memorial Foundation — comprised mostly of family members of the shooting victims — received an unexpected $115,000 donation from the Colorado Community Church in August. That sudden sum propelled the Foundation about $20,000 past its longstanding fundraising goal of $200,000.

The 7/20 Memorial Foundation has committed at least $200,000 for “the design, fabrication and installation of a permanent memorial situated within the Reflections Garden,” according to the call for entry.

Other sizable contributions for the memorial have come from the Havana Business Improvement District, Highpoint Church and a class of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce’s leadership course.

The deadline for artist applications is 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 6. Finalists will be notified of their status March 1.

Interested applicants can view the complete call for entry on the Western States Arts Federation’s CAFÉ System website. Questions can be directed to Roberta Bloom, the city’s public art coordinator, at

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