The building-length mural adorning the entrance to the Highland Recess Beer Garden hotspot is a tribute to the state of Colorado. Together, several colorful blocks of images come together to form a mural depicting scene after scene of Mile High fun.
“365 Days of Vacation,” reads the mural.
However, this piece of public art serves a greater purpose than visual entertainment – it’s a product of the Magik Mural Project, an initiative of Magik Studios in Denver that gives back to the community through donations to local elementary school art programs.
The Magik Mural Project began in early 2021, shortly after friends Meredith Steele and Kristen Fogerty founded Magik Studios in 2020, a Denver-based art company that creates custom, hand-painted murals to fit into unique spaces in homes and businesses. Both artists in their own right, the two women combined their skills to create their own company entirely – with their goals as the focus.
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“We wanted to have a part of Magik that gives back to the community,” Fogerty said. “Given how many schools and teachers were affected by the pandemic, we decided to really dig into it … we were looking at budget cuts and arts programs were some of the first budgets to be cut.”
After witnessing the effects of the pandemic, Magik Studios kicked off the Magik Mural Project with their first piece, Colorado For People, at 3000 Zuni St with sponsorship from Cherry Creek Morgage and a donation to Valdez Elementary School.
“It’s a way to lift the spirits of a lot of different people while working with a local business to do it,” Steele said.
Today, the project has sponsored and created three murals around the Denver area in just a year and a half of existence. The impact: nearly $7,000 donated to local schools.
“Part of the specificity of this project is that the mural should lift the spirits of the community. Something about Colorado. We have sponsors who are willing to work on us on this topic,” Steele said. The project usually designs three concepts for the murals, presents them to the sponsor and works with the business on the favorite. Steele and Fogerty, however, like to create murals that specifically fit each business’s space.
The latest sponsors of the project – Recess and its sister bar fieldTRIP – fit this requirement perfectly, with both of their murals connecting to the culture and spirit of Colorado’s outdoors. 365 Days of Recess and Take a Funky Ride were created for their one-of-a-kind spaces with Colorado as inspiration. The owner of the business, Owen Olson, is also a Denver native and attended Columbine Elementary, the school that received the project grant.
“We really want to impact the communities where these artworks are displayed,” Fogerty said. “Specifically, Columbine Elementary didn’t even have an art program. They outsourced to another company … so it was really important that we had a substantial donation to help with the funding.”
“Art has impacted our lives personally and, especially after 2020, I think we just saw the value of creativity. Art is what brings people out of dark times,” Fogerty explained. “We here in Denver are so lucky that art is honored here and that’s why Magic is truly possible. It welcomed the work we wanted to do.”
Steele and Fogerty also believe that art is vital in schools and the education of young children, a reason behind their project. “I think it would be very encouraging if more kids saw art and creative pursuits as a viable option for their future careers,” Fogerty said.
“It’s a great outlet for kids, too,” Steele added. “Especially in the exercise of the imagination.”
The Magik Mural Project has reached out to local sponsors for previous murals, but they are currently looking for future project locations that want to embrace their love of public art in the Denver community. Although they are currently working on completing about one mural per year for the project, they hope to expand the project — possibly even outside of Denver.
“We love to see this program grow and develop and branch out into other communities,” Fogerty said. “It’s a big undertaking, but the bigger the project, the bigger the donation.”
Learn more at magikstudios.co.