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'There's A Lot Of History': Artistic 'Plaques' Denote Chicano/Latino History Of Denver Neighborhood

DENVER (CBS4) - Doors Open Denver is a celebration of the city's architecture and design. This year, a theme is building community, and one of the featured neighborhoods is La Alma-Lincoln Park.

Each year, the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation supports arts and cultural activities that enhance the architectural experiences. One of this year's cultural activities is a series of artistic "plaques" that will be pasted to the sides of various buildings, using wheat paste.

"It's going to be 32 by 20. It's going to be this sort of wheat paste plaque. It's going to go right in the middle over there," said Michael Florez, a Metro State University student. "Luckily wheat paste is very easy to work with. The colors are going to come through."

CVA Plaque
(credit Denver Architecture Foundation)

Florez, along with Joshua Steele and some other classmates, designed the plaques. The design was inspired by the Chicano/Latino culture that thrived in the La Alma-Lincoln Park neighborhood during the 1950's, 60's & 70's.

"We wanted to use adobe because it was banned. It was illegal, so we wanted to make sure, in the design, we used adobe housing-type things," Florez explained.

(credit CBS)

The plaque features a period picture of a young artist selling pottery. It includes a haiku from Colorado's Poet Laureate, Bobby LeFebre. It will be displayed on the Center for Visual Arts building, in the heart of the Santa Fe Arts District.

"So that is the focus to let people know that there were people here, and they lived intricate, important lives, and we don't want to forget that," Steele told CBS4.

(credit CBS)

The MSU students collaborated with artist, and Denver native, Carlos Fresquez. He grew up in the neighborhood, and provided the student designers with a lot of history, and good ideas for how to capture the culture.

"The Museo de las Americas was a JC Penney's. I got my first communion outfit there, so just knowing it was a true community. Everyone talking care of each other, and it seemed like everyone knew each other," Fresquez remembered.

(credit CBS)

Now the area houses the Sante Fe Arts District, and the Auraria Campus, so this art + culture project is a reminder that is wasn't always that way.

"There's a lot of history here, and we're all sort of in this together. Back then, it was kind of us versus them, and art is great because it brings all cultures together," Florez told CBS4.

LINK: Full Schedule of Events during Doors Open Denver

The Architecture of Community Plaques will be on display during Doors Open Denver, on Saturday, Sept. 21 and Sunday, Sept. 22.


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