Manitou Springs is a special breed, the kind of town where a squirrel named Geraldine has as much of a place on a mural as anyone else. Such is the case with "A Day in the Life of our Carnegie," a donor-recognition acrylic painting designed to raise funds for the expansion of the Manitou Springs Public Library. Painted by Manitou artist David Gonzales, it's a personalized tribute to the library.
"We wanted to make it simple and inviting," he says of the work.
Gonzales explains that with every donation of $1,000, he paints the donor's name in a nearby space and adds a new hue to the work, like a complex paint-by-number. At this point, the painting appears to be softly blushing. The Friends of the Manitou Library, who commissioned the piece, hope to raise $200,000 through the painting by Oct. 15 to help fund a $2.1 million expansion.
"A Day in the Life," actually a canvas mounted in the front entryway, presents a charming scene of a busy afternoon in the park in front of the library. Some children run around; others sit with a librarian, listening to a reading of Where the Wild Things Are. Other folks chat on a park bench.
Most of these are real figures from the community. Perhaps the most conspicuous is artist Charles H. Rockey, walking his dog Puppy around the garden. In a throwback to Manitou's early days, Andrew Carnegie sits in the background. Gonzales even includes his own family in the piece, depicting himself and his fiancee as children running down the hill and his stepson playing a flute against a tree.
It is Raul Maynez, a former city custodian and Manitou activist, who's feeding his loyal outdoor pet Geraldine. Gonzales says Geraldine is famous for following Maynez everywhere through town. And now, of course, right into the painting.