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Visual Arts

Artists reveal ‘Droplets’ mural at Animas River Days

Project involving nine artists was a ‘massive undertaking’ to portray collective vision
Seven of the nine artists who participated in The Walls Project’s “Droplets” mural, from left, Silas Armstrong, Chelsie Begoody, Jordanne Pelkey, Maddie Sanders, Mariah Kaminsky, Cindy Atchison and Parker Ledford, along with Brandon Firkins, a sponsor, and Thomas Donley, chief financial officer of the project, stand in front of the mural Saturday that was painted on the side of the administration building of the Santa Rita Water Reclamation Facility. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The city of Durango and nine artists unveiled the “Droplets” mural on Saturday during Animas River Days at the Santa Rita Water Reclamation Facility.

The reclamation center and Santa Rita Park were bustling with residents and visitors who showed up for a day of water sports in 82-degree weather.

The mural features a series of water droplets containing depictions of wildlife along the Animas River, and the personalities or styles of each artist who worked on them.

Silas Armstrong, an artist who worked on the piece, said the project was a massive undertaking for a group of artists who would presumably find trouble fitting all of their unique ideas into one piece.

But they pulled it off.

“They initially thought there’s gonna be way too many cooks in the kitchen, but we managed to make it work,” he said.

The nine artists are: Armstrong, Cindy Atchison, Chelsie Begoody, Laurie Cullum, Mariah Kaminsky, Parker Ledford, Jordanne Pelkey, Maddie Sanders and Hannah Wilson.

“Droplets” uses a color spectrum representing the seasons. The largest droplets break up the major scenes of the Animas River depicted in winter through autumn.

“I chose to depict mine in yellow because it just happened to fall in the summer location, but also to represent the 2015 (Gold King Mine waste water spill) disaster that tainted the river and turned it yellow,” he said.

A 1,500-square-foot mural called “Droplets” was officially unveiled on Saturday at Santa Rita Reclamation Facility during Animas River Days. The project is the culmination of nine artists’ work who were brought together by the city of Durango and nonprofit The Walls Project. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

He said a shining sun portrayed over the entire scene is a symbol of hope.

The mural also includes depictions of how ecological damage effects the community and the ecosystem downriver from Durango.

Armstrong said locals might recognize his art behind Jean Pierre Bakery, Cafe and Wine Bar, a mural of Bart Simpson from “The Simpsons.”

He also had a mural at The Hive, a youth community hub, before it announced the closure of its 1150 Main Ave. location.

“It’s been one of the best experiences of my life,” he said of the project. “Super-talented artists. Really just honored and flattered enough to work with some of the great artists that are here.”

“Droplets” came together through a partnership between the artists, the city of Durango and The Walls Project, a nonprofit that uses art and creativity to drive positive change in communities.

The art project came together right on schedule. Tom Donley, The Walls Project’s chief financial officer, said in March the public unveiling of the mural was slated to happen during Animas River Days.

Tommy Crosby, economic opportunity manager for the city, said in March the mural was made possible because a separate landscaping project at the reclamation center was completed under budget by about $100,000. The mural’s price tag was about $45,000.

Two art installations, a sculpture by Alex Bond called “Whispers in Water” and a kinetic piece depicting a kayaker riding waves by Jeff Wise, were also included in the mural project.


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