Fruita’s new Art on the Corner continues a tradition dating back to Black Sunday

New sculptures along Aspen Avenue continue a tradition dating back to a time when the Grand Valley economy was left in shambles.
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 3:39 PM MDT
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FRUITA, Colo. (KJCT) - Art along Main Streets has been an iconic feature for communities across Colorado’s western half for decades. Fruita now has three of its own sculptures by different Grand Valley artists, continuing a tradition created by the near-destruction of the local economy.

Art on the Corner was originally started 41 years ago by former Art Center Director Dave Davis after the 1984 mass exodus of oil companies from the area crushed the Grand Valley economy.

Mesa County Libraries Historian Kristen Ridgway said the area began banking on tourism to pay the bills, and built a more diverse and balanced energy industry. “There’s an argument to be made that the region is all the stronger for it 41 years later,” said Ridgway.

"Leaping Pronghorn" by Pavia Justinian. You can view this piece at the plaza near Suds Brothers...
"Leaping Pronghorn" by Pavia Justinian. You can view this piece at the plaza near Suds Brothers and Hot Tomato Pizza(Kacie Sinton)

The oil shale industry never fully recovered from the Black Sunday collapse, so the citizens of the Grand Valley were forced to adapt.

“The bust brought the community together on a lot of new things too,” said Ridgway. “[Davis] started Art on the Corner in 1984 in an effort to revitalize the town after the bust. It was one of the first outdoor sculpture exhibitions of its kind in the country, and has inspired cities across the US to host their own,” Ridgway continued.

"Penny" by Gary Hauschulz of Palisade, Colorado. You can view this piece on the corner where...
"Penny" by Gary Hauschulz of Palisade, Colorado. You can view this piece on the corner where Park Square and Aspen Avenue meet.(Kacie Sinton)

Despite the tradition running for multiple decades, Fruita Arts and Culture Board Member Nancy Patterson said that the city plans things fresh. “This program was a little different, because each year the sculptures will change. It brings fresh art to new eyes, appreciative eyes in the community and beyond. I think that starting with three locations is a good start, but we aspire to more,” said Patterson.

"Back Woods Blues" by Trevor Hall of Fruita, Colorado. You can view this piece in front of...
"Back Woods Blues" by Trevor Hall of Fruita, Colorado. You can view this piece in front of Kim's Auto Parts on Aspen Avenue.(Kacie Sinton)

Fruita’s new art exhibition will be displayed along Aspen Avenue for one year, and selected artists receive $1,000 for their work.