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Driving through Grand County, Colorado, one of the first things you notice, other than the mountains, are the dozens of murals adorning the sides of buildings throughout the county. When it comes to mountain town art, the Granby murals are first rate.
And when it comes to art in the High Country, public art has always taken a backseat. Sure, you’ll find some sculptures in Winter Park or Steamboat Springs and there’s lots of art galleries in Summit County, but public art murals have been allusive in the Colorado’s mountain towns. The drive from Denver to Granby is only a few hours, but it’s a million miles away when it comes to culture.
While public art murals have exploded both in numbers and in popularity around the world, they’ve been slow coming to Grandy County. Over 15 years ago, a local artist pained a mural on a building in Granby. It didn’t last long.
In 2018, the Granby Adventure Awaits mural was painted along the main street. This is one of the best Rocky Mountain scene wall murals anywhere in the High Country. It became an immediate hit with visitors and was also appreciated by locals for its novelty.
Building on that success, the communities of Grand County (primarily Granby and Fraser), invited dozens of artists to create large scale works in 2019. The culmination would be the RKY MTN WALLS art festival.
And come the artists did. Led by Pat Milbery of the So-Gnar Creative Division (of X Games fame), Anthony Garcia Sr of the Birdseed Collective, Koko Bayer, Mike Graves, Dread and Detour.
However, now that the mountain murals are here, some locals aren’t so happy about it. The town had a meeting, a small group of locals complained loudly, and the future of the murals has largely been left up to individual business owners. (Thinking about the meeting, I keep having images of the famous town meeting in the movie Footloose.)
Of the 16 murals created during the great Granby Mural Project, a few have been painted over and destroyed, but most still exist.
However, one exciting outcome of the initiative is that this has fueled the interest in murals and public art throughout the county. There are now bunch of them in Fraser and even Winter Park.
Whatever locals may think about them, they have quickly become one of the top attractions in Granby and Grand County. Even a cursory view of social media, shows thousands of photos of the murals. We love Grand County and we love the murals and can only hope they expand to Hot Sulphur Springs and Grand Lake in the coming years.
And here’s a few more of the murals in Grand County: