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Basalt Gets Creative to Attract People Downtown

Basalt Gets Creative to Attract People Downtown

Basalt has gotten competitive in its efforts to attract people downtown during the Midland Avenue Streetscape Project.

The Basalt Public Arts Commission is hosting a mural competition where the public could watch six artists work on their pieces during parts of a week earlier this month. Now the public is being asked to vote for their favorite in a People’s Choice competition. The voting is open through Sept. 3.

“It’s been really well received. We’ve had almost 300 people vote (as of Monday),” said Michelle Thibeault, town planner. She noted that number is in the ballpark of how many people voted in a recent town survey about possible timed parking restrictions downtown.

The mural competition is part of a broader package to keep foot traffic flowing downtown during the major public works project. Midland Avenue is undergoing major cosmetic survey and replacement of water lines and other utilities. The project is designed to make the town’s main street more pedestrian friendly and update its look. The effort to keep commerce moving is called “Business is Open.” It includes Wednesday night concerts in the new Basalt River Park and a program called Midland Money where people can get a voucher for a discount when spent in a downtown store or restaurant.

The arts commission came up with the mural competition as a way to contribute to the vibrancy of downtown and displaying public art. Six murals are scattered around downtown, from the old Art Base building to the Sotheby’s International Realty office.

Eight artists responded to a call from artists to participate in the competition. Six ended up creating murals in their designated spaces.

Four of the murals have a heavy dose of inspiration from nature, from fish to bears and deer. One is a practical business wayfinder with a nod to Basalt’s railroad roots. And one is — well, see for yourself.

The murals are fairly small demonstrations. The winning submission in the general category will be asked to recreate a likeness of a mural in downtown Basalt. Thibeault said the town is working on securing a space where the winning mural can be created.

The artists and their murals, from west to east, are:

  • Finn Johnson, a resident from Woody Creek and the only student to enter. His work is on the Two River Road side of the old Art Base building.

  • Jeremy Velasquez, an artist from the Rifle area whose work can be seen in Rifle, Glenwood Springs, Silt and Grand Junction as well as locales outside of Colorado. His piece is by the flagpole at Town Hall. 

  • Charles Andrade, owner and operator of Lazure Custom Wall Designs, a mural and decorative painting business. He is based in Basalt. His piece is at Corders’ Corner, the “parklet” across from Town Hall.

  • Kirsten Hix, a Glenwood Springs artist who specializes in murals, paintings and more. Her work is in front of Alpine Bank.

  • Gaard Moses, a longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident who has created custom signs and murals in the Aspen area since the early 1970s. His work is located by the Sotheby’s office at 201 Midland Ave.

  • Beth Warmath, a professional muralist whose work has been on display from Denver to Costa Rica. Her work is on the sidewalk space at 214 Midland Ave.

Meanwhile, the Midland project is progressing. The work on Midland Spur is expected to wrap up soon. Paving has been completed and striping of parking spaces and traffic lanes is expected to be completed this week. The road will open to the public late Friday, according to town engineer Catherine Christoff. The work streamlined Midland Spur, which extends west of downtown, and adds parking spaces.

Work is progressing from west to east on installing a new water line on Midland Avenue. Work is expected to continue throughout the fall and resume when weather allows late next winter or spring.


Scott Condon | Aspen Daily News | August 30, 2023

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