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Concrete Couch crowd-builds art for Pueblo Avenue 

The Cut

click to enlarge GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell

There's a forklift hauling a massive tiled pumpkin across Vermijo Avenue. Clearly, it's a Monday morning. Specifically, it's Monday, Oct. 17 — just a few days before Concrete Couch's Pumpkinfest celebration on Saturday, Oct. 22, the deadline for pumpkin completion.

The project started sometime in February, as a precursor to the Community Built Association's 2016 conference, which Concrete Couch hosted. Director Steve Wood says it's traditional for the host organization to set up a few projects for folks to work on. One of those was the "mega mural" on the wall of the lower parking lot of Penrose Library, completed in May. The pumpkin took a little longer.

"We connected with the Colorado Springs Urban Intervention group," Wood says. "Coincidentally, they have been eyeing Pueblo Avenue for years and years. It's the closest free parking to downtown, but from a community-design perspective, and an architecture perspective, and a community planning perspective, it always was destined for much greater things."

click to enlarge TIM KRANZ
  • Tim Kranz
click to enlarge TIM KRANZ
  • Tim Kranz

Looking at Pueblo Avenue on a map, it was pretty clearly designed by our city founders to be a major boulevard, bookended with a view of what is now the Pioneers Museum against the mountains.

"This was envisioned ... as maybe a little first step to re-envision the street," Wood says.

The piece itself is also configured around community. Some of the tiles are upcycled, via the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, but some were made by community members at the What If festival.

"My theory of public art is to reward the curious," Wood says. Looking close, it's easy to spot the rough tiles made by children's hands. There are also a bevy of tiles made by professional artists, including one with an intricate blue-on-white print of a cabin in trees.

The city granted Concrete Couch a revocable permit for the pumpkin, meaning it's hard to say how long it will stick around. But until it goes, the pumpkin will give passers-by what one pedestrian called "a vacation for the eyes."

click to enlarge TIM KRANZ
  • Tim Kranz
  • The Cut

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