Arts and Culture

Jerry Jaramillo's Sunnyside Mural, "Primavera," Is Gone But Not Forgotten

Colorado artist Jerry Jaramillo was devastated when he found out that his mural, "Primavera," had been sandblasted and removed from a brick wall at the corner of 41st Avenue and Tejon Street in Sunnyside, where it had been for more than thirty years. "It felt like I lost a child or something," he says. "I was single and didn't have any kids at the time I painted it; every time I did a mural, it seemed like my child. So it felt like a loss to me, because it was one of my favorite murals I had done in Denver."

See also: Gemma Bayly Brings Her Optimystic Arts to a New Community Collaborative Mural In Denver

The mural depicted a conga player whose song flowed into the air, first becoming a musical wind full of flowers and eventually spreading across the wall and transforming into a beautiful woman floating above fields of chile peppers. It was a familiar sight to anyone who had some history in the neighborhood, but it won't be part of the future.

Earlier this year, Servicios de la Raza, which owned the building, sold it to developer Paul Tamburello and business partner Jack Pottle, who are planning to restore the turn-of-the-century structure to its original state, a process that meant removing the mural, which had been partially painted onto a 1970s-era addition to the building.

That addition was completed while the building was occupied by Servicios. Funded by a 1970s-era grant from the Nixon Administration, Servicios began as a Chicano-focused mental-health agency and has since added other programs, such as emergency services, youth programs, domestic-violence resources and more to assist underserved, GLBTQ and immigrant populations in Denver. This week, the organization will move to a more central location in order to better serve those groups.

But Servicios executive director Rudy Gonzales says this isn't a simple case of an overzealous developer discarding a neighborhood's past in order to make way for a new and very different demographic. After looking long and hard at other offers, he believes that Tamburello and Pottle will work hard to retain the neighborhood's spirit.

"We sat down with Paul and Jack and [City Councilwoman] Judy Montero and some of our clients who are community members in the neighborhood to talk about the building being sold," says Gonzales. "Judy and I were concerned about the murals -- but the thing that Jack and Paul did was take the time to really listen to us."

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Bree Davies is a multimedia journalist, artist advocate and community organizer born and raised in Denver. Rooted in the world of Do-It-Yourself arts and music, Davies co-founded Titwrench experimental music festival, is host of the local music and comedy show Sounds on 29th on CPT12 Colorado Public Television and is creator and host of the civic and social issue-focused podcast, Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? Her work is centered on a passionate advocacy for all ages, accessible, inclusive, non-commercial and autonomous DIY art spaces and music venues in Denver.
Contact: Bree Davies

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