Traffic rumbles overhead as teens paint the walls of an underpass.
It's not what you might think. This time, the art has purpose, and is, in fact, covering vulgar, tasteless scribblings done by someone presumably around their age.
The Lutheran …
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The Lutheran High School students, guided by art teacher Mark Hollenbeck, are painting a team of horses to reflect the area's rich equestrian history. It's all a part of “Paint Parker,” an anti-graffiti initiative that combines the efforts of the Parker Police Department, the Parker Arts, Culture and Events Center, the town's parks and rec department, and local artists.
The intricate murals decorate underpass walls along sections of the Sulphur Gulch Trail and a path in Newlin Gulch that leads behind the King Soopers at Lincoln Avenue and Jordan Road.
On Aug. 10, Hollenbeck and a group of four students are putting the finishing touches on the colorful mural. They started the three-week project in late July and have battled the elements, including rain and wind. But everyone seems glad for the experience and proud of the work they've accomplished.
“I think the mural will last a long time because it won't get very much rain or sun,” he pauses. “As long as people don't tag over it.”
The mural has already been tagged, and the students had to try to match the color and go over some of those parts. The presence of graffiti — typically juvenile drawings, profanity and nonsensical “gang” symbols — is unavoidable, but the idea is that people won't tag if there is an existing piece of art there. Dawn Cashman, public information officer for the Parker police, said there is a code of ethics even among taggers to avoid painting over someone else's art.
Murals are a crime-prevention technique that “takes away the canvas for those taggers,” Cashman said, citing a successful mural program in Denver's RiNo District.
Seventeen-year-old Taylor Budnack, who works on background aspen trees and points out the rear end of a white horse that she painted on another wall, said she is optimistic that taggers will steer clear of the mural, for which nearly 20 gallons was used.
“I'm hoping. But you never know,” she said.
By all accounts, the campaign has been worthwhile. Denver artist Chad Bolsinger designed and painted a colorful scene along the Sulphur Gulch Trail between Home Depot and Goodwill. It's a vast improvement upon what was there, and makes good use of what would normally be a drab gray slab of concrete.
Between fights with loaded paint brushes, Lutheran High School sophomores Mathew Fasone and Darcen McCampbel, both 15, work on the heads of four horses on a 10-foot-by-42-foot wall, while Daniel Ness, 16, uses a ladder nearby to reach a high point. Only Fasone has prior experience painting horses. That doesn't seem to matter, and the horse mural, designed by independent art studies instructor Kent Harris, is coming along quite nicely.
Most of the students have other activities to attend to, and Budnack is finishing up before running off to a student council meeting. She will leave the project in the coming days with the knowledge that she helped beautify her town when she had the opportunity.
“I didn't expect doing anything like this, and I'm really glad I did it because it's a good way to end the summer,” she says.
“Paint Parker” is expected to be a multi-year campaign aimed at high-traffic areas of town, Cashman said. Nearly $8,000 was budgeted this year for six projects, and there are plans for sprucing up tagged walls in Canterberry Crossing, Willow Park and Railbender Park, among others.
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