[Music] Public art is at center of, I think, the DNA of Denver, Colorado.
My earliest memory of public art are probably the Chicano murals here in La Alma Lincoln Park.
I always remember people standing different when they were in front of a mural.
I think of them as portals and they were just transported into another space.
I think theyalways provided an opportunity to tell the story of our people, both the triumph of the civil rights and Chicano movement, but also the prejudice that my community faced.
These are really unique murals where the artists lived in the communities.
I often associate them as being an extension of these indigenous traditions of storytelling.
Murals, especially, are incredibly significant because it's reclaiming a space, this sense of permanence in this space.
They allow the community to feel a sense of ownership.
Erasure of murals does not just mean that you're erasing a work of art.
The erasure that you kind of murals represent also the erasure of the people that live there.
This was with the largest murals in Denver in 1977, and this was whitewashed.
Somebody bought the building and painted it all white.
And, you know, that was a community anti-drug type of mural, the theme.
And uh, but anyway, that's a good example of the murals.
You know that were whitewashed.
I believe these murals are in danger.
You know, for a long time, if you look at the historic society, which I sit on.
It wasn't preserving different cultures and different communities.
It was very much about the colonization story of this region and the growth of Denver from that perspective.
I had submitted in January an application to the National Trust to have the Chicano murals here in Colorado on the 11 Most Endangered Places.
And they picked that for the murals to be on this list.
I started doing art work at the age of 13 while I was in a facility of incarcerated kids.
I had started doing drawings with matchsticks and paper towels.
It was kind of a revelation that I had talent.
So I pretty much decided at that time to, you know, declared myself an artist.
The only opportunities at such an early age for me to really start doing artwork was for the Chicano movement and murals that really lend itself to a way of doing paintings to in the communities, to instill pride in the people, show them some identity and some of the significant historical elements.
The art, it's what talks about the conversation.
It brings the topic up.
It's the stories about the walkouts, the police violence.
And we had parks that said no, no Mexicans on Sundays.
I mean, they're very much for segregation.
And if we're not told those stories through the art and by our family, then we forget.
At the time, the 60s, mid-60s, when the Chicano movement was very active, there was no mural activity going on.
So I was considered the pioneer of the mural movement here.
We did a lot of work.
We covered a lot of, you know, buildings in that period.
If you look at the murals here, there's a huge emphasis on education.
We were left out of the history books.
We weren't part of the conversation.
And so there's a huge emphasis in my family, I think many families, education was a path forward.
And I think the influence of these murals and my family history definitely were part of it.
The Chicano, Chicana, Chicanx Murals of Colorado Project Mission is to protect, preserve and promote the visual legacy of Colorado.
When I started attending meetings about preservation, the first thing I asked them is how are murals protected in the city of Denver, in the state of Colorado?
And to my surprise, murals in Denver are classified as paint on a wall.
They're not even recognizing their artistic value, their historical value or their cultural value.
We need to change this conversation about what we think is historic and what we think is significant in terms of protecting it for future generations.
Most of the murals I did in the community are gone now.
I'm just very excited about the fact that some of these murals will be preserved.
I just felt this was my purpose in life.
I think that every community has their Masters, their master artist, and they they should be recognized for that.
For me, I really, really would love that when I have grandchildren that I could take them to a mural that my dad painted.
I think the greatest way that you can honor them is to continue to tell their stories.
And so as our elders are passing away, we have a responsibility to continue to educate the next generation of people and to pass that on.
That is intimately part of our culture.
Even to this day, I still get very positive feedback from people.
They just think it was the greatest thing that they can remember.
And growing up in the in the in the ghetto.
And it just makes me really feel good and honored that I can make them feel that way.