Coloring Book Event Will Draw Community Together

The coloring book mural at Sunken Gardens Park
The coloring book mural at Sunken Gardens Park Marcus Puskar
A coloring book mural will be unveiled on Thursday, August 4, at the Sunken Gardens basketball court, and the community is invited to fill it in from 6 to 8 p.m.

The mural, painted by 28-year-old Denver artist Marcus Puskar, is a collage of shapes and images that can be colored in by visitors with chalk. The mural covers the entire perimeter of the basketball court, beautifying a corner of Sunken Gardens Park, 800 Delaware Street. It was funded by a Denver Arts & Venues P.S. You Are Here grant, which supports projects that help to activate Denver's outdoor spaces through artworks that will attract passersby.

The grant's goals are to "inspire creative and innovative thinking, create a sense of place, purpose and belonging, and create public spaces that promote health, happiness, and well-being," among many other things.

Puskar's project is one of fourteen that received a P.S. You Are Here grant in 2022. Others include the murals from Motus Theater outside many Denver Public Library branches, as well as the Montbello Memory Mapping project, which are podcast recordings that tell the stories of longtime Montbello residents.

Puskar was notified of his acceptance in December, and painted the mural in June over the course of about a week. "[The mural] presents an opportunity for people to meet one another," Puskar says. "There’s a task at hand that they have to do, so people are focused on something which opens them to socialize more outside of that."

If community members are gathered around a shared activity, they are more likely to talk, meet their neighbors and be social, suggests Puskar, who says he likes the idea of people being able to come and color casually without the pressure of creating the designs or drawings themselves. "It’s really low-stakes. It's just chalk, so when the chalk gets washed off, it’s totally renewable," Puskar says. "It’s not as if they’re putting a permanent paint stroke on it.” And he'll even provide the chalk.

Puskar had a similar coloring book event when he created a mural in Cherry Creek through the Denver Urban Arts Fund. He picked Sunken Gardens as the site for this mural because he lives nearby and has noticed that the park seems underutilized.

As a social worker, Puskar says that building community is "literally part of my job description," so he's pushing "projects that help people get a sense of what their communities look like, and to interact with people they wouldn’t normally interact with."

Groups that want to schedule times to color in the mural can contact Marcus Puskar at [email protected] Otherwise, the event is open from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday, August 4.
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Katrina Leibee, a recent graduate of Colorado State University, is an editorial fellow at Westword, covering politics, business and culture.
Contact: Katrina Leibee