Before I Die, an art installation that encourages people to create a communal bucket list, has been standing in the northwest corner of Civic Center Park since January -- and yesterday, Candy Chang, its creator, came for a visit.
The New Orleans artist first conceived of Before I Die after she lost someone she loved; after going through a self-described "period of grief," she says she wanted to do something to beautify her neighborhood and inspire people. She focused her efforts on a nearby abandoned house.
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With a simple stencil and some chalkboard paint, she painted a rectangular box on the side of the house and stenciled "Before I Die" in that box, followed by an ellipsis. Then she added eighty blank lines for people to fill in with chalk. "I had no idea what to expect," Chang says. But when she walked by a few days later, "I was blown away when all eighty prompts were filled out and spilling into the margins."
And it's only grown from there. One hundred fifty Before I Die murals have now been installed around the world, in ten languages and 35 countries. Denver's installation arrived last September, and was first erected in Sonny Lawson Park under the aegis of the Community Coordinating District that is focusing on that part of town.
In December, Arts & Venues Denver relocated Before I Die to Civic Center Park. "We wanted to let the passersby and all walks of life to participate in art and humanize public space," says Jorgen Jensen, a member of the Community Coordinating District board.
Chang, who hadn't seen the Denver version before yesterday, describes Before I Die as one of the best experiences of her life. But there's more to come for this artist: She says she wants to write a bedtime story and revive a ghost town before she dies.
Before I Die should remain at Civic Center until next month.
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