People around the world were all children once, and most will never forget the first playground games they learned.
“It’s part of the memory for every kid. All over, you have at least one hopscotch game,” says Adolfo Romero, a Chilean artist living in Aurora. “In Mexico, it is called bebe leche. In Colombia, it’s called the plane, el avión. In my country, it’s called lucha. In Argentina, it’s called rayuela.”
Romero’s installation Timeless Games for Kids at Heart will be unveiled officially tonight, but his art is already in place along Santa Fe Drive. Taking shapes from Native American symbols, Romero designed four hopscotch courts for Denver's Art District on Santa Fe: Kokopelli the trickster, the feathered flying serpent Quetzalcoatl, the healing lizard and the symbol of life, the tortoise.
Romero originally developed hopscotch installations for his homeland. Raised in the northern Chilean port city of Arica, he moved to the Denver area from Santiago four years ago.
Because the Santa Fe Business Improvement District, which is hosting the project, wanted temporary exhibits, Romero changed his usual technique: Instead of making mosaics, he made stickers. Starting with a sketch, he designed graphics and trusted a printer to roll them out.
This technique proved more difficult than Romero originally expected.
“I am not a graphic designer. I am a visual artist. My techniques usually are painting, sketch, different materials, but normally I don’t design in ‘high resolution,’ so that was kind of challenging,” he says. But he was also able to represent his work in a completely new way; instead of taking tile images offline, Romero made his own color swatches from photos of his other works.
“I took many pictures of paintings that I have in my studio, so all the colors in the hopscotch were taken from another painting; the textures, all the combinations come from my paintings,” he says.
Romero’s visual works often explore the origins of symbols or seek to reunite today's world with history. Since his Masks in Motion exhibit was displayed at the Denver Art Museum in 2017, he has been working on new sculptures that will be shown in the DAM's Demo Studio in September.
Still, he loves watching the hopscotch squares bring out inner children everywhere.
“When I made this the first time, we installed them in a park, in a square, and when people find the hopscotch, they instantly just jump on them,” says Romero. “It’s a kind of magic charm that they make an adult or even the kids just jump."
Adolfo Romero will discuss his hopscotch pieces at 6 p.m. tonight, Friday, July 20, at the Events Gallery at 910 Arts, at 910 Santa Fe Drive.