Art News

In Destructive Times, Pat Milbery Is on a Mission to Preserve Art

Pat Milbery has a mural to save.
Pat Milbery has a mural to save. Kimberly Wolff
Coronavirus has sent the winds of change whipping through our city.

Coloradans are out of work, the economy is reeling, and both financial and health concerns are on everyone's minds. In times like these, our community can only handle so much loss.

So muralist Pat Milbery is motivated to save as much as he can. His deep passion for Denver, as evidenced by his "Love This City" series, has kicked into hyperdrive.

On March 30, Milbery saved one of his murals from a grim fate. The fourth "Love This City" painting was created on May 13, 2017, on a sheet-metal building at 3800 Blake Street in Denver's RiNo Art District. The project was a TEDx Adventure collaboration with Milbery and three other artists — Jason T. Graves, Pat McKinney and Remington Robinson — as well as local teens who worked with the artists.

This post on Pat McKinney's Instagram account describes the TEDx Adventure and the creation of the mural:

Pat Milbery has a mural to save.
Pat McKinney's Instagram Account @pat.mckinney
Here is a shot of our mural we created on Saturday. What a great day! @patmilbery @jasontgraves, @remingtonrobinson and I hosted a TEDx Adventure (@tedxmilehigh) in Denver's @rinoartdistrict. With the help of 15 teenagers we painted our 4th installation of the "Love This City" campaign. The kids picked up spray cans like pros. Eager to learn and create we were all able to work together to finish something that maybe didn't seem possible in only one day. Thanks again to @etukdenver for giving us a spot to paint. Go check it out at 38th and Blake! Created with @kobrapaint>>>
The former eTuk building at 38th and Blake streets is now slated for demolition; the lot will soon be home to Denver's new World Trade Center campus. But Milbery didn't want to see the mural destroyed, and neither did Formativ property developer Sean Campbell. So Milbery pulled his work off the structure.

This mural "has story, it's got texture, it's got culture," Milbery says. "It's got a narrative that could be really neat: to bring some of the old into the new. And to not just lose all of that old."

That's why he's making sure that the mural finds a new home inside one of the buildings in the World Trade Center campus, a vision backed by developer Campbell. The complex won't be completed for a few years, though, and in the meantime, Milbery and Campbell plan to find the mural a temporary home, most likely at 28th and Blake streets.

click to enlarge Pat Milbery has a mural to save. - KIMBERLY WOLFF
Pat Milbery has a mural to save.
Kimberly Wolff
While many are staying at home, Milbery continues to bring light and life to the city, relying on the "essential business" status given construction projects.

"The vision is, we're going to keep doing what we're going to be doing as artists," he says. "I'm doing my best every day to add love and positivity and that spirit that we already have, flying that flag for the city."

He hopes that people who do stay at home take this opportunity to recharge. But even more, he says, "I hope we can keep practicing love. I also hope that we can value how special our lives are, but also how much we all love to be in this city and love to be a part of this city."

"And to me, that's why this mural needed to come off this building."
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Lauren Antonoff is a Denver native dedicated to telling Colorado stories. She loves all things multi-media, and can often be found tinkering in digital collage. She joined the Westword team in 2019, where she serves as the Audience Engagement Editor — connecting people, ideas, and the stories that matter.
Contact: Lauren Antonoff