Art is more than decoration. It has the power to change minds, foster dialogue and create connections.
Although most people enjoy art—not everyone has the means or ability to engage in art experiences. That’s where thinking outside of the museum comes into play. Murals and community art projects are a couple of ways that everyday people can have a relationship with the arts.
“All throughout history, society has created art in some form. Clearly it’s essential to who we are,” said Georges Loewenguth of Georges Eliott Artworks. “If we were to strip the world of art, when clearly it’s something that’s ingrained in us, I don’t think we’d survive.”
Although most people might not associate the arts with survival, it can have a profound impact on quality of life. Enjoying the arts – both as a spectator and as a creator -- has been linked to improved mental and physical health. Community arts projects in particular have been linked to increased healthy eating, physical activity, and well being among participants.
Loewenguth is a figure in the local arts scene. His canvas paintings have been showcased at venues in Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Denver—including the Veterans Gallery in the Santa Fe Arts District. Loewenguth has also painted murals on display at local businesses and serves as head art installer at Museo De Las Americas.
One of Loewenguth’s recent projects was a community mural at Maplewood Apartments, which is owned and managed by Metro West Housing Solutions (MWHS). Loewenguth, enlisting the help of MWHS residents, transformed a plain wooden fence into an enchanting mural that will be enjoyed for years to come.
It is an extension of the mural that Loewenguth painted last summer, located behind the community garden area at the property. Although the murals were painted a year apart, they complement one another. The first mural represents a daytime scene, while the addition is a nighttime scene.
“Stylistically, I’m more comfortable with imperfections being a part of the painting. Your imperfections can scream at you. But I’ve learned to appreciate their beauty and let them be a part of the piece,” he said.
Finding Fairies at Maplewood
Collectively, the murals reflect Loewenguth’s surrealist and whimsical style.
“I juxtapose things with environments that are not possible,” he said.
This year’s imaginative design was inspired by Colorado scenery and "fairy gardens," which are popular in DIY and gardening circles – themes that relate well to the property, he said.
“Maplewood is a hidden gem,” Loewenguth said, who lives at the property. “It sits in a wooded area and it’s very peaceful and quiet here.”
Prior to the community painting day, Loewenguth sketched out the design on the wooden fence. He kicked off the event with instructions for participants and made it easy for individuals of all skill levels to pick up a paint brush and help bring the mural to life.
With the foundation painting in place by residents, Loewenguth and Claire Hays, a friend from art school, performed the fine detail work. The mural is accented with metallic paint which gives the piece a luminescent glow—as if the fairies are basking in the moonlight.
Despite contending with week of recurring summer thunderstorms, the mural came together in about week.
Several residents said the mural creates a relaxing and beautiful place to retreat to at the property and that it's where they go to chat with a friend or enjoy a meal. MWHS plans to use the mural as a backdrop for resident classes and events, such as an introductory course on meditation.
"Having public art, close to home or at your home, makes you feel special and included in the community," said Kristi Walsh, MWHS resident services coordinator.
Loewenguth, who holds a bachelor’s of fine arts in painting from Metropolitan State University in Denver, said the mural projects at MWHS have helped him develop artistically.
“Last year’s mural was the first time I designed one myself and was in charge of managing the budget. It was a great learning experience for me as an artist and for my career,” he said.
Connect with Loewenguth and view more of his work on Facebook and on Instagram.
Megan Schmidt is a staff writer at MWHS.