Huge Mural Planned for Ute Pass Cultural Center

Sprague Stearman McCookHuge Mural Planned for Ute Pass Cultural Center
By Beth Dodd

Plans for a 145 foot long mural on the east wall of the Ute Pass Cultural Center were revealed at the Woodland Park City Council meeting on February 19. Local artist, Lois Sprague hopes to begin painting it early this summer.

Scott Stearman of the Woodland Park Arts Alliance, who has been working with Sprague to plan the project, introduced the Mural Project at the February 19 Woodland Park City Council meeting.

“Public art done well can have a positive impact on the tone of the community,” Stearman said. “We want to tell the story of you, me, and our community, and why we have chosen to be here. This is the story of “us” in Woodland Park.”

The mural will have a historical theme. It will show the progression of Woodland Park’s history moving from left to right like a picture book. The story begins with the Ute Indians and goes up through horses and cars sharing the main street in the 1950s.

The east side of the Ute Pass Cultural Center is an ideal location for the mural because public gatherings are often held on the green between the UPCC and the Woodland Park Library including concerts, art shows, and community celebrations. It is a good place to tell the story of Woodland Park.

Sprague did the image selection and the historical research to plan the mural and will be the painter. Images will include the Ute people, the Ute Pass wagon road, sawmills and the lumber industry, the Colorado Midland train, the Woodland Hotel, the historic Methodist church, the Ute Trail Stampede and the first rodeos inside a ring of cars, and more.

The wall will also have QR codes on it for smart phones. The QR codes will be linked with a website including short movies about the town’s history. The history will be narrated by Woodland Park residents. A list of the donors who contribute to the mural will also be on the website and QR codes.

To be respectful of Ute culture and traditions, Sprague met with Rolland McCook, the great-great grandson of Chief Ouray and Chipeta. McCook is being used as a model for the Ute Indian portrait that will anchor the south end of the mural. The Ute Pass Historical Society was also consulted for historical research and images.

Fundraising is underway to finance the massive art and history display. Mural patrons will have the opportunity to have their faces included on the wall. The city is contributing $3,000 to the project.

As it is being completed, the mural will be unveiled in three phases. It is hoped that Rolland Mc Cook will be present for the big reveal of the south end of the mural, which features him as a model. The unveiling of the mural’s stages will be coordinated with community events at the UPCC.

The mural will be in full color. Sprague is working with Sherwin Williams Paint to ensure the painting will last for many years. The wall will be carefully prepped and paints and colors are being chosen to maximize its longevity. It will be protected with an anti-graffiti coating.

The weather needs to be around 55-60 degrees for painting outdoors, which should happen sometime in May. Sprague hopes that they can power wash and prep the wall in May so she can start painting in June. Her goal is to be finished by October. If the weather co-operates, the first section may be unveiled sometime in July.