Colorado History

Waving the flag for Colorado artists

There's something about the state flag that really brings out the creative side of Coloradans. In fact, it would be easy to assume that the C in the center of that design stands for Creative. And as a very last-second addition to Artopia, Westword's annual celebration of everything from fine art to street art that filled five venues on Broadway this past Saturday night, we set up an impromptu gallery celebrating Colorado flag art and asked readers to drop off their very individual homages to this state symbol -- in a preview of what could become a bigger event on August 1, Colorado Day.

See also: Colorado flag-art show next Colorado Day? A Capitol idea!

Artists and entrepreneurs submitted everything from T-shirts to hats to headbands to lamps to locking pot stash bags to necklaces to paintings on wood, paintings on leather, paintings on canvas - all sporting the flag, or at least parts of it.

Good sport Aaron Kennedy, the state's chief marketing officer who led the effort to create a new Colorado brand and the byColorado program, stopped by to take a look at the contributions and pick a few favorites.

Zach Thompson's abstract painting of the flag definitely caught Kennedy's eye. "I've done a lot of them throughout the years," says Thompson. Close to thirty of his flag paintings are in the collections of friends, family members and acquaintances; appropriately enough, there's even one hanging in a Colorado Department of Revenue office, where Thompson used to have a day job. But no more. Within the week, the Colorado native - born in Aurora, raised in Littleton, and a Denver resident for the past half-dozen years - is moving to the East Coast. "I've loved Colorado for thirty years," he says. "I will always be a Colorado boy/man at heart."

And then there's the Colorado tie by Jeff Bontrager, owner and manager of Neckitecture (, who created a red, white and blue flag tie with a grommet in the C on the front, which allows the yellow from the back of the tie to shine through at the appropriate spot. "I think that the Colorado flag is such an ideal design - it's very simple but it's colorful, and it has a lot of meaning behind it," says Bontrager. "I've always admired the Colorado flag, and I thought it would make a great design."

Bontrager has created many other tie designs, most of them non-traditional and many incorporating zippers, grommets and other pieces of hardware that make production a challenge. "I'm just getting started, and hope that I'll launch within the next year," he says. That Colorado tie will be included in his initial line, one of four designs devoted to the flag of each state in the Four Corners region.

Long may they wave.

We're talking with Kennedy about celebrating this coming Colorado Day in style (and art) with a Colorado Art and Maker Fair at the State Capitol. We'll keep you posted on how that idea evolves...but in the meantime, feel free to post your own favorite flag art below.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun