Fort Collins Mural Project brings color and culture to Old Town

Lauryn Bolz

Golden goddesses, friendly animals, and abstract patterns are gracing and transforming the streets of Old Town.

The Fort Collins Mural Project is challenging the perceptions of visitors and residents using visual language, and changing the vibe of the city from a college town to an artistic focal point of Colorado.

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The project started in 2015 with Lindee Zimmer, a CSU graduate, who at the time was painting a mural outside The Alley Cat Cafe. Zimmer says it has been quite a successful adventure.

Lindee Zimmer’s ‘Sun Goddess’ watches over The Exchange in Fort Collins. The mural was completed this spring.

“A gal approached me while I was painting and asked me to start a mural project,” Zimmer said. “I got a committee together, a group of artists, and we began painting together to build our portfolios and started reaching out to business owners.”

The Mural Project seeks out blank walls and collects funding from the Old Town businesses who own them for a mural to be put up. Experienced in large-scale murals or not, contemporary artists are called out and paid for their contribution to the streets of Old Town. 

The project has since then created 12 public murals around Old Town Fort Collins, with many more in the works. In recent months, it has been easy to notice the arrival of new color to the streets of Old Town.  

In late July, two artists named Abram Aleo and Travis Gillan answered a public call from the Fort Collins Mural Project and soon completed their first collaboration in the Montezuma Fuller Alley. The surreal, large-scale scene of animals, shapes, and women’s eyes is a striking sight in what was before a lackluster back alleyway.

Abram Aleo puts the finishing touches on his signature. The 4-inch Instagram logo was the only stencil used in the making of the mural.

“I think the biggest thing for this mural is that we wanted to do our style and get weird so it shakes people up as they walk by,” Gillan said. “We didn’t want just some generic mural, but of course you need to compromise a bit and make something for everyone.”

The north wall of the mural features a friendly-looking bear and trout, a nod to one of the oldest pieces of public art found in Old Town square which features the same animals. The rest of the wall is a bit more abstract but still draws inspiration from the lively Fort Collins atmosphere and the animals of the Front Range region.

“I hope we shake people up a bit, make them stop and think and appreciate,” Gillan said. “I think there is something enhancing to a town by investing in public art.”

While bringing color to the streets and encouraging pay for local artists, the Mural Project is also making the creation of public art easy. A legal counsel makes it so artists don’t have to jump through hoops with private businesses or the city council, and those who want to display their art publicly can do it with ease.

“There’s been kind of a restriction on the public art in Fort Collins. It’s been amazing to see the Fort Collins Murals Project being able to collect funding, get the permits required to create a beautiful work of art that’s going to be enjoyed by everybody.” Abram Aleo

The Project’s process makes it so that the artists have complete creative influence, with no input from the owners of the wall. The result is a colorful and diverse collection of murals that bring a new kind of life to Fort Collins’ alleyways.

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“Street art can’t help but influence the environment,” Gillan said. “Every time someone walks past this mural, it’s going to produce some sort of thought and alter their perception in a way that it wouldn’t have if it wasn’t here.”

Collegian reporter Lauryn Bolz can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @laurynbolz.