Glenwood grows public art projects this summer | Arts & Entertainment

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A flourishing arts scene is taking shape for Glenwood Springs’ summer season. With COVID-19 restrictions on the low, artistic expression is on the rise in public places and community spaces as part of the city’s growing arts initiative.  In late 2017, the city of Glenwood Springs established an Arts and […]

A flourishing arts scene is taking shape for Glenwood Springs’ summer season. With COVID-19 restrictions on the low, artistic expression is on the rise in public places and community spaces as part of the city’s growing arts initiative. 

In late 2017, the city of Glenwood Springs established an Arts and Culture Board with a mission to build community and encourage meaningful connection through the arts. The development of the “Public Art Plan” was a recommendation from the board to the Glenwood Springs City Council in 2019, and the final plan was approved by council last fall. 

Rolling into summer, the plan is on a tangible track with the “Better Together” mural project — the first of many public art projects to arise in Glenwood, according to the city’s art supervisor, Annie Henninger. 

“The Arts and Culture Board was put into place to oversee projects that beautify the city and also build community and a greater sense of place,” Henninger said. “‘Better Together’ is the first of its kind.” 

“Better Together” fits the board’s artistic agenda. Taking place the first two weekends in June, 10 local artists from the Garfield County area have been selected to paint the exterior walls of five topek structures — sheltered tables sprinkled throughout Glenwood’s downtown core. 

Aided by a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation, the city purchased the outdoor dining cubes from Black Hound Design Company — a custom furniture manufacturer based in Denver — during the pandemic to expand outdoor dining options and create a safe, socially distanced place for people to gather or eat. 

Inspired by the Inuit topek house, Black Hound designed the little huts as spaces intended for community and gathering, Henninger explained. With topeks available for Glenwood residents and visitors to enjoy this summer, the “Better Together” murals being painted on the structures builds on the positive message of their making.

Over the next two weekends, the selected local artists will be designing their topek mini-murals during daylight hours Friday through Sunday. The muralists may use one day or all of the designated days to complete their designs, and the public is invited to watch the transformation as it develops. 

“You’ll be able to see the muralists painting live on the topek — it’s like a festival in a way,” Henninger said. 

In a news release, Glenwood Springs Councilwoman Shelley Kaup described the mural designs as “vibrant” and representative of “the natural environment and human connection.” 

“Art is an important component of placemaking and economic development,” she said in the release. “We are excited to have these beautiful murals enliven our downtown seating and celebrate our community’s creativity.”

The community’s creativity also will be celebrated on Saturday with the reopening of the Glenwood Springs Community Art Center. From 2-6 p.m., the center will host an event — free and open to the public — where attendees can check out an exhibition, tour renovated spaces and enjoy live music by Kyle Jones and Friends. There will be live demos, art-making activities, refreshments and games. 

The center’s debut exhibition, “Strings of Peace,” features a selection of guitars painted by local artists as part of the Challenge America guitar decoration contest. The decorated guitars will be on display at the center for at least two weeks, Henninger said, and eventually provided to veterans in Challenge America’s music therapy program. 

While the center never closed, it was quiet during the pandemic, she explained. She said she looks forward to reopening its doors to the public with a “new mission and vision for arts and culture programming in Glenwood.” 

“I want to stress that the [center] is for everyone, and we really want the programming to reflect the unique interests and needs of the people in Glenwood Springs,” Henninger said. “This is their community arts center, and art is for everyone.”

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