A mural project has been approved for the back wall of Natural Grocers and was designated to start this weekend.
The city’s Durango Creates Grant Fund has put forward $5,000 to fund the project, which will include associated costs with the mural, community engagement, the installation of a seating area and landscaping.
“The mission behind that grant is creative place-making. One of the elements of creative place-making is actually activating spaces or parts of town that might otherwise be under utilized or under seen, and having that part of the natural grocers river facing wall be activated,” said Tommy Crosby, the city’s economic opportunity manager.
The artist who was commissioned to paint the mural is Lauren Czaplicki, and the theme will be wildflowers.
In order for a mural to be eligible for a grant, the projects must be visible to the public, be a small-scale community driven project focused on place-making and community engagement, catalyze social and economic activity to build the tax base and support creative professionals, and encourage cross industry relationships, Crosby said.
This is the second mural to go up along a Durango business in the past month. Hannah Wilson in August painted a mural commemorating Durango’s craft brewing industry on the side of Mac’s Liquor.
Czaplicki said the theme’s based on wildflowers that she saw growing behind the natural grocers building and thought it would be a great way to bring attention to the back of the building.
However, Czaplicki intends to take a different approach with this mural compared to other murals in the city.
Instead of painting the mural directly on the wall, she is going to watercolor paint segments of the flowers, screen print them and then place them on the wall with a synthetic wheat paste, which is made out of an acrylic material. She said this will protect the mural from weather.
Wheat paste is a gel or adhesive that is often made from wheat flower or starch and water. It is commonly used by activists to flypost propaganda and artwork.
“What you do is put a light layer of it onto the wall and a layer of it onto the back of the paper. And then you smush them together and then put a layer on top of the paper. And then the sun dries it out and it gets sealed onto the wall,” Czaplicki said.
There will be some painting directly onto the wall, as Czaplicki intends to paint roots near the foundation of the building’s back wall.
Czaplicki has held multiple community sessions, including one on Aug. 19 where other residents helped her cut out pieces of paper for the mural. Generally, Czaplicki specializes in watercolor painting but wanted to pursue something new and interesting for a city mural.
She started putting the mural together on Saturday and should be finished by the end of the weekend, but says it could be finished as late as the early part of this week depending on workflow and weather.
“I want to show that you don’t have to have great technical ability, or everyone doesn't have to coordinate all of the pieces of putting up a mural, but they can do something simple and create beauty in their surroundings,” Czaplicki said.