Community collaboration will create new downtown mural

Spray painted can
Spray painted can(Pixabay)
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 2:54 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - Students in Lora Quesenberry’s art class at New Emerson Elementary in Grand Junction have been busy learning about philanthropy and the meaning of community. In March, the class began presenting ideas for a new downtown mural to a group of local artists and United Way staff and volunteers.

“I am inspired by the open-ended, problem-solving that comes from giving students authentic, real-world problems,” said Quesenberry. “Our partnership with the United Way has given my students the opportunity to have their work, their ideas, and their learning impact our community. I love seeing them light up with pride as they realize the importance of working together.”

Quesenberry’s class has provided ideas to local artist Emily Adamson for a new mural that will be located in the breezeway off of the 500 block of Main Street.

In 1992, artists Pat Olson and Robin Nelson created a collage of tiles that featured handprints of donors and community leaders that gave support to the organization. After thirty years of community admiration and general weathering, the tiles have began falling and chipping away.

United Way of Mesa County, the owner of the building being painted, is partnering with Downtown Grand Junction with the hopes of reaching people

“The ideas presented by the students were stunning and touching,” says United Way of Mesa County Executive Director Zebulon Miracle. “The thought, creativity, and passion that each student put into their art work was amazing. We look forward to seeing the mural that Emily Adamson will create using the students’ ideas and participation. We feel that this will be a wonderful way to engage the community in thinking about philanthropy and community.”

The original tile handprints are expected to be removed September 26 and 27, and Adamson will begin working on the mural in October.

The past mural’s tiles are hoping to be saved during the removal but due to age, condition and fragility, it is unsure how many will survive.

“While we look forward to sharing a vision from the next generation, we want to proceed with respect. There are so many pillars of our community who have handprints on display that have given so much not just to United Way but to Mesa County as a whole.” says Miracle. “We are trying to reach out to everyone who has a handprint on the mural to let them know how long the piece will remain up and that we will do all we can to save and return as many tiles as possible or use them in a new piece.”

The new art installation will still hold history as it shares information from the previous piece. A webpage will be created to tell the story with images and information on the new mural.