Anthony Garcia Sr. is the founder of Birdseed Collective, a Globeville native, acclaimed studio and street artist, father, philanthropist and the mastermind behind the new compass created on an intersection at Jefferson Park. "It’s one of the pieces I'll be doing this summer that is part of an urban renewal project called Business on the Boulevard at Jefferson Park," Garcia explains.
This area is on the way up, another neighborhood gentrifying on the Northside. Garcia is cleaning up the block in his own way: by painting stunning murals, and even taking on his first sculpture project, to beautify the businesses in Jefferson Park.
"I just wanted it to be something opposite of a mandala," Garcia says of his inspiration for the compass. "It's all arcs in a mandala, and instead, I did all angles. I had to draw it a hundred times before I figured out how to do it on the street, because it’s so big. I've never done anything like that before. I drew over a hundred lines, traced out the ones we were using. It was crazy.”
Among the challenges of creating art in a major intersection is the fact that it's on the ground. “That’s another reason why I did the compass," Garcia says. "it’s easy to keep it in its dimensions; I think it’s like forty by forty. I’ve done plenty of murals that big; I've just never done anything on the ground like that. We were on our hands and knees the whole time.” Because the piece is on the ground, Garcia also thinks it will get worn down a bit quicker than your average wall mural.
But Garcia has much more going on than the Jefferson Park project. He created Globeville Food Distribution as a way to give back to the community where he grew up. "It's been a little over a year now that we've been doing this, and we give out food every Monday at Globeville Center," he explains. "Right now, we're doing a fundraiser at Hope Tank on South Broadway, where you can help donate to Globeville Food Distribution. We have the window display there. If you go by, we're selling yard art; weird, paint-covered objects; found objects like tree stumps, wood — and that's a great way to help us out."
Birdseed Collective is also working on another summer public art project through the Denver Arts + Venues Urban Arts Fund. "We're doing a cool project with kids called Where Wood Meets Steel," he explains. "We're still kind of waiting on the city on that, and we are trying to get kids to volunteer from the neighborhood, or at least kids who are excited about the art scene."
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Where Wood Meets Steel will consist of three big bay doors at 49th Avenue and Washington Street. "We're trying to do something that looks like wood and steel but mixed with my style: linear, broken pieces of wood, different bolts and rust," he says. "I came up with the idea from one of my paintings. Now that I've been over there, I've tweaked the concept a little. I'll ask the kids, you know, what kind of wood do you like, what do you think would look good? I have an idea in my mind, but as it gets closer, I'll probably involve the kids' vision more. This particular mural, we wanted to have kids involved."
As all of his projects — including that compass — show, Garcia knows the way to not only reach kids, but beautify the city in the process. He'll be honored for his efforts at the Westword Music Showcase on Saturday, June 20, where he'll receive a MasterMind award at 5 p.m. at City Hall.