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Nonprofit works to preserve Chicano Murals in Colorado

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Posted at 5:31 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-24 19:31:15-04

DENVER — A nonprofit is working to preserve colorful Chicano murals throughout the Denver metro area that depict the history and culture of the neighborhood.

David Ocelotl, an abstract imagism artist, carefully transferred his latest mural onto a wall in the Rino Art Park with the help of volunteers.

“This mural is approximately 100 feet wide and about 9.5 feet tall,” Ocelotl said.

His latest work of art pays tribute to Clinica Tepeyac Community Health Center by showcasing indigenous people carrying roses as an offering to the clinic. The health care facility provides care to Latino families lacking access to insurance or who simply can’t afford to see a doctor.

Ocelotl draws inspiration for his work from his Mexican culture.

"I like people to access these images and know that we all come from many different cultures, and it’s just my way of sharing my culture,"Ocelotl said.

He’s painted several murals throughout the Denver metro area over the years. Ocelotl named his first mural "Huitzilopochtli." It went up in 2009 off Federal Boulevard and 8th Avenue and honored Mexican native traditions, philosophy and spiritual ideas.

“I don’t make these for myself, it’s for the people and it’s for everybody. But it does gives Latinos a voice, a presence and, to me, I hope to inspire the community,” Ocelotl said.

The mural was approved by a nonprofit that owns the building, but a company that rented out the property decided to paint over the cultural painting.

Lucha Martinez DeLuna, the director of Chicano/a Murals of Colorado Project, said Chicano murals throughout the state are under threat. The nonprofit helps preserve and promote Chicano murals.

“These are sacred spaces to us," DeLuna said. "They not only tell our history, but they relate to what our beliefs are.”

She is working to help restore Ocelotl’s first mural. The organization plans to use techniques that will chip away at the white paint used to cover the painting.

“The idea of the murals was to legitimize our sense of place in many neighborhoods that we were actually being displaced in,” DeLuna said.

To help restore trust in the community, three artists came together and painted a mural on the same building where Ocelotl’s original painting once stood. The mural showcases a serpent shedding its skin, which represents rebirth.

An unveiling will be held for the Clinica Tepeyac Community Health Center mural but a date has yet to be announced.