Longmont’s Mario Miguel Echevarria completes bountiful mural at Sister Carmen Food Bank – Boulder Daily Camera

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Public art has the ability to make an ordinary space extraordinary.

Longmont artist Mario Miguel Echevarria poses for a photo in front of his ‘Sembrando Vida’ mural at the Sister Carmen Food Bank, located at 655 Aspen Ridge Drive, Lafayette. (Mario Miguel Echevarria/courtesy photo)

For over 20 years, Longmont artist Mario Miguel Echevarria has transformed the sides and sidewalks of buildings with his dynamic work.

One of his recent works adorns the interior of Sister Carmen Food Bank. The sprawling piece – measuring 13 feet by 83 feet wide – depicts a woman surrounded by a luminous abundance of produce. Echevarria even painted the edible flowers against the backdrop of indigo skies and mountain peaks.

The stunning blend of realism and abstraction is a style Echevarria has brought to many projects across Colorado and beyond.

When he’s not finishing public works, Echevarria — an alumnus of the Rhode Island School of Design — spends time in his studio filling sketchbooks and canvases with images, renderings of future projects, and slices. of inspiration.

Longmont artist Mario Miguel Echevarria works on part of his mural "Sembrando Vida" at the Sister Carmen Food Bank in Lafayette, Colorado (Mario Miguel Echevarria/courtesy photo)
Longmont artist Mario Miguel Echevarria works on a section of his “Sembrando Vida” mural at the Sister Carmen Food Bank in Lafayette. (Mario Miguel Echevarria/courtesy photo)

We caught up with Echevarria – who has just returned from a three-week trip to Greece – to find out more about his work with Sister Carmen Food Bank, what drives him to create and where we can expect his artistry to emerge. afterwards.

Kalene McCort: I love your mural at the Sister Carmen Food Bank. What was the competition process like to design this mural and what inspired the piece?

Mario Miguel Echevarria:

After bringing all my paintings, scaffolding, ladders, etc., to the site, I “blocked” the landscape with paint, then laid out my final design on the wall. I started painting some of the central figures, elements and was happy with how the mural was taking shape. Due to the busy Sister Carmen Food Bank, we agreed it was best for me to work after hours from 5 p.m. until I dropped off.

During my fourth nightly session – in the eerie stillness of the empty food bank – something remarkable happened. At that point, I recognized that while my design was engaging, the scale of the elements planned would struggle to compete with the energetic activity of the food bank. I then saw most of the small elements provided fall. As they disappeared, the fresco was peopled with grand gestures. The artistic mind can be mysterious like that, but I knew what I had to do. The next day I came up with a new design and started painting things that were already close to being finished. To say the least, painting figures etc. surprised the staff and inspired great curiosity for what was to come.

Longmont artist Mario Miguel Echevarria works on the mural "Sembrando Video" at the Sister Carmen Food Bank in Lafayette, Colorado (Mario Miguel Echevarria/courtesy photo)
Longmont artist Mario Miguel Echevarria works on the “Sembrando Vida” mural at the Sister Carmen Food Bank in Lafayette, Colorado. (Mario Miguel Echevarria/Courtesy photo)

Rather than a bunch of small, life-size figures throughout the mural, I created three giant figures that I hoped would look like they were literally stepping out of the mural and into the food bank visitor area.

One of the giant figures symbolizes the greater role that Sister Carmen plays in the community. Sister Carmen does more than provide food to those in need. In fact, it’s remarkable how many additional services they offer. It really blew me away. They offer nutrition and cooking classes, exercise classes, parenting classes, computer classes, they offer homelessness help, they maintain a community garden, they help with financial situations emergencies, mental health crises and the list goes on and on.

To honor the fact that SC looks after the entire health of the individual, I painted a giant figure of a woman experiencing dark overcast skies and a storm. The storm, rather than being destructive and something unbearable, is a shower of flowers. The transformation of a miserable storm into an event whose beauty is to be admired, is brought to you by Sister Carmen.

We’ve all been there. When we’re in dire straits, the beauty of life often goes unnoticed because problems dominate our minds and we don’t have the energy to be present in the moment. Sister Carmen, indeed, allows people to find stability in their lives so that they can simply live and hopefully find the mental space to admire the beauty of existence.

A tile detail of a mural created by Mario Miguel Echevarria is seen in Hygiene, Colorado.  (Mario Miguel Echevarria/Courtesy photo)
A tile detail of a mural created by Mario Miguel Echevarria is seen in Hygiene, Colorado. (Mario Miguel Echevarria/Courtesy photo)

KM: What other murals have you created and what is the most rewarding aspect of creating large-scale public works?

MRS : I have been working as a professional public artist for over 26 years now. As a public artist, I don’t have to maintain a defining style or medium. As a result, I have an eclectic mix of projects in my portfolio.

Examples of the variety include: a tough commission from New Belgium Brewery to create giant floor mosaic layouts surrounding brewing vats, working with suicidal youths to create a mural in a public hospital lockdown facility Pueblo Mental Health, create aluminum and neon sculptures for an arts district in Denver, create custom sculpted ceramic reliefs installed 80 feet off the ground on a fire station hose tower in Frisco, in Texas, create large 3D collages of respected blues musicians for Oskar Blues from painted wood and found objects, and the list goes on.

What I love most about creating work for the public is that I enjoy watching the before and after effects of how art changes the dynamics of a space. Maybe a space was just an environment to pass through before. Once the art is installed, people slow down and linger, smile more, and interact with strangers more often and in a more positive way. Once the art is installed, it feels like the site is showing affection for the visitor, and I’ve witnessed people experiencing this quality. There is often a positive ripple effect of this condition, and make no mistake, good public art can make waves.

""BB, Frankie and Charlie" of Mario Miguel Echevarria is seen at Oskar Blues in Longmont, Colorado (Mario Miguel Echevarria/Photo courtesy)
“BB, Frankie and Charlie” by Mario Miguel Echevarria is seen at Oskar Blues in Longmont. (Mario Miguel Echevarria/courtesy photo)

KM: Have you always been drawn to painting? Do you remember a time when you knew art would be part of your career path?

MRS : When I was 10, my family lived for a year in Guadalajara, Mexico. My family loved the culture so we explored Guadalajara thoroughly. While exploring at this tender age, I came face to face with the work of one of Mexico’s great muralists – Jose Clemente Orozco. As I stand beneath Orozco’s masterpiece at the Palacio de Gobierno, I will never forget to feel the naked vulnerability of my naive little self in the face of such power. I was both terrified of the power of art and the possibility of painting, and realized that my old self would be abandoned when I left the Palacio.

"Sweeter than nectar" Mural by Mario Miguel Echevarria in Louisville, Colorado (Mario Miguel Echevarria/courtesy photo)
“Sweeter Than Nectar” mural by Mario Miguel Echevarria in Louisville. (Mario Miguel Echevarria/courtesy photo)

KM: What do you think has inspired your work lately?

MRS : Lately, I’ve been inspired by the number of amazing objects and events in our sphere of perception that escape our notice. There are exquisite micro and macro happenings constantly happening 360 degrees around us. As we walk down the street, the turbulence and sound of our footsteps create patterns in the air. What would it look like if the wind was colored?

I am drunk on the visual world. It may sound ridiculous, but I also faint when I see beautiful things and things that are generally considered abominations.

"Health measurement" a Mario Miguel Echevarria mural is seen at a Whole Foods Market in Santa Fe, NM (Mario Miguel Echevarria/courtesy photo)
Mario Miguel Echevarria’s “Measure of Health” mural is seen at a Whole Foods Market in Santa Fe, NM (Mario Miguel Echevarria/Photo courtesy)

KM: Any new projects or pieces we can expect to see?

MRS : I am currently in the design phase of a mural in Fort Collins on College Avenue near CSU. The content will be an acknowledgment of the hard work endured by marginalized migrant workers in Fort Collins and a celebration of their culture that has sustained them.

I have just returned from a dynamic three week road trip through Greece. I have no doubt that this will have an impact on the design of my next project. For me, travel and the resulting culture shock electrifies my ability to design and create. It is during these moments of intensive dealing with the unknown that my creative mind expands and effectively solves design challenges.

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