But a landmark building should absolutely, positively and unquestionably never get tarted up with murals. A tragic case in point: Fairview Elementary School, at 2715 West 11th Avenue, which was substantially vandalized with paint in 2017. It wasn’t a bunch of graffiti taggers who did the damage, however. It was a pair of city entities, Arts & Venues and Denver Public Schools, which had partnered with the Raw Project, a group out of Miami that promotes this kind of sacrilege nationally. I don’t blame the artists who were chosen for the project (some of their murals are actually pretty good), but I do blame Arts & Venues and DPS for facilitating the denigration of an important historic building out of a kind of mindless enthusiasm for hipsterism.
The quality of these characteristics should come as no surprise, because Fairview was the work of an acknowledged master of Denver architecture, Eugene Groves, and it’s clearly the most significant work of architecture in its immediate neighborhood, a low-income community. If it were instead located in a more affluent — and, dare I say, more white — area like Washington Park, it would boast bronze landmark plaques and, I assure you, would not have been turned into a carnival sideshow.
Denver has definitely changed since Fairview was built. Although the Sun Valley neighborhood was poor even then, Denver Public Schools decided to erect an important building there, one that could have fit into the richest district in the city. But today, DPS and the city have so little regard for that area and its residents that they’ve turned this landmark into a piece of disposable trash.
See more photos of Raw Project pieces on Denver schools here; see twelve far more successful Denver murals here.