Greeley Stampede decorates the arena with murals by artists and pieces created by local students

In addition to a soaring new stage, the Greeley Stampede Arena has received some pops of color and Western flair along the walls of the two main staircases leading to the stands, and visitors are guaranteed to be delighted when they see the new additions.

“We went through a brainstorming process on how to do the 100th special. I’m a product of the Weld County School District 6 Art Department, so I always try to promote the art at the Stampede,” said Kevin McFarling, marketing coordinator for the Greeley Stampede. “We had talked about how we could integrate art and I’ve walked through those doorways a million times; it’s a blank canvas and a perfect opportunity to do something like that.”

McFarling reached out to the City of Greeley to see if they would be interested in partnering with the Stampede for a mural project in the two stairwells. The city loved the idea and jumped on board.

Given that the Stampede and the city have previously collaborated with local artist Armando Silva and Denver-based artist Cody Kuehl, hiring the two to do the mural project was an easy decision.

When the Stampede and the city saw the proposed designs, the organizers “weren’t surprised because both pieces suit their own style” and the designs were accepted in the first draft, said Kim Snyder of the Greeley Arts Commission.

“They know the place, they know the audience, and it just came out and we were like, ‘Yeah, do it,'” Snyder said. “We didn’t want to hold hands to make sure they did. We wanted them to have fun. They are so experienced and they know what they are doing.”

GREELEY, CO - MAY 19:Barrels painted by local students are seen at the offices of the Greeley Stampede at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley on May 19, 2022. (Alex McIntyre/Photographer)
GREELEY, CO – MAY 19: Barrels painted by local students are seen at the offices of the Greeley Stampede at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley on May 19, 2022. (Alex McIntyre/Photographer)

Silva created a vibrant mural featuring a boy wrestling with a rooster on one side of the stairwell and a young girl in a charro outfit on the other.

In true Armando Silva fashion, both pieces contain intricate detail and linework that will engage the viewer’s eyes for some time.

“The designs are really simple. There is a feminine piece and a masculine piece, but both are meant for the kids. I leaned a bit on my cultural background, but mostly it’s a play for the kids,” Silva explained. “These are elements I’ve incorporated into previous pieces and it was a beautiful way to put them together.”

Silva designed the mural in such a way that visitors get a different perspective when going up and down the stairwell.

“The composition is meant to carry you up the stairs,” said Silva. “And when you come down the stairs, you see different elements.”

Silva’s piece fits perfectly with the Greeley Stampede added Heritage of Mexico Rodeo on Sunday, July 3 at 1pm. The event includes prancing horses, performances by a matador, rope art demonstrations, folklorico dances and more.

The event’s acts will be choreographed by fourth-generation charro champion Jerry Diaz.

“When people go into the arena and see all the color and all the action, it’s fun and they’ll be ready to experience what’s going on in the arena,” said McFarling. “It will really change the mood. It’s this whole walk through the art that makes it so special.”

If you’ve been to the Go West Film Fest in Greeley, chances are you’ve seen Kuehl’s work. Kuehl has made a name for himself in the western art world with his dynamic pieces featuring cowboys, horses, Native Americans and lots of brightly colored gunfights.

Similar to Silva’s piece, Kuehl’s mural of a bronc rider leaps off the wall with bright colors and the illusion of action.

“The original concept, when we talked about it, I was thinking about how old libraries and museums have marble statues of lions and things like that. That was the original idea of ​​the color palette, so to speak, these grandiose marble figures jumping out on the way into the arena,” said Kuehl. “It’s very illustration-based, very comic-based. I approached it as something that would become an iconic image for the Stampede.”

GREELEY, CO - MAY 19:Artist Cody Kuehl poses for a portrait with his new mural at an entrance to the Greeley Stampede Arena at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley, May 19, 2022. (Alex McIntyre/Photographer)
GREELEY, CO – MAY 19: Artist Cody Kuehl poses with his new mural for a portrait at the entrance of the Greeley Stampede Arena at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley on May 19, 2022. (Alex McIntyre/Photographer)

While both murals are vibrant and action-packed, each encompasses an entirely different style and look, and is a feast for the eyes of visitors.

“We knew we wanted them to be different because that would make the two shows exciting. But we were really excited to see how different they were,” McFarling said. “It’s amazing what adding color can do. There is a lot of energy here too.”

“It was really fun to see the transition of everything,” added Kuehl.

While Silva felt pretty comfortable taking on the mural project, Kuehl admitted he was a little hesitant at first.

“I don’t do a lot of murals; I’ve done about three of this size. I mostly exhibit in galleries, so I didn’t really bother with that,” said Kuehl. “When they first brought me here and asked me what I thought of it, I said to them, ‘That’s a terrible idea.’ There are so many logistical hurdles that I wasn’t sure how we were going to go about it. I said, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to do any of those other walls?’

“But it was a really great project in many ways.”

Unlike Silva, who worked on both sides of the stairwell at the same time, Kuehl’s game plan was to paint one side of the stairwell to see the mural come out, and then make any necessary adjustments for the other side.

“I finished the right side first, so that was sort of a proof of concept,” Kuehl said, laughing.

Both Silva and Kuhel used exterior paint provided by Sherwin Williams Store in Greeley. The artists provided the paint shop with the color palettes they needed, and the shop mixed each one specifically for the mural project.

“They were so cool and accommodating,” Kuehl said. “They were very excited to be part of the project.”

GREELEY, CO - MAY 19:Barrels painted by local students are seen at the offices of the Greeley Stampede at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley on May 19, 2022. (Alex McIntyre/Photographer)
GREELEY, CO – MAY 19: Barrels painted by local students are seen at the offices of the Greeley Stampede at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley on May 19, 2022. (Alex McIntyre/Photographer)

Once the murals were finished and dry, a UV clear coat was applied to the pieces to protect them from the weather and outdoor elements.

“The UV protection gives it a beautiful shine and protects it from the elements, splashes and touch for years. It also minimizes any visible brush strokes,” said Silva. “And it can be pressure washed if needed.”

In addition to the murals, Stampede High School asked students from a variety of schools to create 10 selfie stations that would be placed around the grounds so visitors could take fun and memorable pictures in front of them.

Measuring 8ft by 8ft, the plaques will feature a variety of designs including a pirate themed plaque.

The Stampede also sent rodeo barrels to local elementary schools to give them a chance to add their own touch to decorating the grounds for the 100th event.

The casks will be placed around the town of Greeley to allow community members and visitors to view the various casks, McFarling said.

The Stampede provided students and schools with $250 worth of art supplies at no additional cost to school districts.

GREELEY, CO - MAY 19:Barrels painted by local students are seen at the offices of the Greeley Stampede at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley on May 19, 2022. (Alex McIntyre/Photographer)
GREELEY, CO – MAY 19: Barrels painted by local students are seen at the offices of the Greeley Stampede at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley on May 19, 2022. (Alex McIntyre/Photographer)

The mural project is just the beginning of integrating artwork in and around the Greeley Stampede site, McFarling said. Stampede employees are exploring other options for future art installations.

“This space has so much history and was kind of a staple in northern Colorado for what it is and what it represents, so I think that’s very special as well,” Silva said. “Adding these nice little touches is just icing on the cake on all the great work that the community, foundation and board have done in bringing all of this together. Hopefully it just disguises itself in a nice way.

“How cool is it that you can get your hands on a piece of history.”

The 100th Greeley Stampede begins Thursday, June 23 at 11 a.m. and runs through Monday, July 4 at 9:30 p.m. at 600 N. 14th Ave.

For more information on event calendars, attractions, tickets, parking and other practical tips, visit www.greeleystampede.org.

https://www.greeleytribune.com/2022/06/17/greeley-stampede-gussies-up-arena-with-murals-from-artists-pieces-from-local-students/ Greeley Stampede decorates the arena with murals by artists and pieces created by local students

James Brien

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