Skateboarding, aerosol art meet at Mural Jam
They started by dipping fat brushes into a pot of brown poster paint and sweeping swaths of wavy hair onto the low red wall. With the theme of their art determined, Ruby Gutierrez, 3, clutched her brush in her fist and headed in a face-ward direction. Kind of.
She meant to paint a face underneath all that luxurious brown hair, but she got distracted by the colors. So many of them! A whole tray full, and her parents had been telling her all week that on Saturday they got to go paint the skate park. She crouched over the paints, decided on purple, loaded up her brush and started swirling.
Bridgett and Johnny Gutierrez, her parents, just laughed and filled in the rest of the happy dancing lady they’d begun with that brown hair. Meanwhile, Ruby dipped her brush into the yellow.
Nearby, on various areas of the concrete at Westlake Skate Park in Grand Junction, other artists with other visions created enormous murals of fantastical design, as enamored with color as Ruby seemed to be.
It was the fourth annual Mural Jam, a daylong celebration of art and music, skateboarding, creativity and community.
“We want people to come out and do art for art’s sake,” said Jason Bradham, an event organizer and owner of Apex Tattoo in Grand Junction.
Mural Jam, he explained, is an offshoot of the Super Rad Art Jam, a juried student art show that he and several other artists began seven years ago. Mural Jam is more informal, and everybody’s invited to come make art, he said.
The first year, the event was at Eagle Rim Park, and the murals were painted on panels, rather than directly onto the concrete. They were hung on the fences around the skate park and apparently were liked, because they all were stolen.
The next year, with city approval, artists were allowed to paint directly onto the park.
“By us coming out and painting high-scale murals, you don’t get other stuff,” Bradham said. “People don’t mess with these murals.”
At each Mural Jam, he said, people have made not just aerosol art of graffiti-style murals, but have brought brushes and paints and chalk, as well, he said.
However, spray paint is always the most popular medium, and “aerosol art and skateboarding have always gone together,” Bradham said.
Saturday’s Mural Jam included a skateboarding competition for beginning, intermediate and advanced skaters, 38 competitors who ranged in age from 9 to 42, said competition organizer D.J. Klamfoth, owner of Junktown Sk8 CL in Grand Junction.
“Everybody who skated today was local,” Klamfoth said. “Every year we get more kids who just want to come out and skate.”
He said the local skateboarding community is working to improve the quality of the area’s skate parks, so Grand Junction will become a destination for national touring skateboarding teams to stop.
In the meantime, there was the skating and the painting and the music. While bands Heavy Drags, Nard and The Middlemen played throughout the day and skateboarders caught enormous air to merge with the blue sky, artists created vivid images on the walls and ground of the park.
A guy who said his name is “Count Skratzhula” joked he was indulging in “mindless self-promotion” because his mural, in graffiti-style letters, gave a shout-out to his company, 3 East Records. Nearby, there were fantastical faces, anarchy symbols and phantasmagoric swirls of color in spray paint, poster paint and chalk.
“This is for everybody,” Bradham said. “Everybody’s a part of this art.”