rom rescheduled concerts to reduced dining options, the Vail Valley’s year-round inhabitants and seasonal visitors alike could be forgiven for considering summer 2020 “canceled.” Yet despite mass closings, the Town of Vail’s Art in Public Places’ (AIPP, artinvail.com) outdoor art installations and tours “can still provide a cultural experience for our guests and residents,” says Molly Eppard, the program’s coordinator.
In June, AIPP unveiled a pair of new public art installations in Vail Village: colorful murals by artists Jason T. Graves (jasontgravesart.com) and Remington Robinson (remingtonrobinson.com) at the town’s main parking structure, and a large-scale crochet project by the Ladies Fancywork Society (ladiesfancyworksociety.com) at the Vail Public Library. The displays follow in the footsteps of a vibrant summer 2019 in the Village, when AIPP featured large-scale paintings by Colorado-based artists Kelsey Montague, Pedro Barros, Jaime Molina, and Pat Milbery.
“It’s something that we’ve wanted to continue,” says Eppard. “I like the idea of bringing in Coloradan artists.”
Eppard reached out to Graves and Robinson for this summer’s mural program after seeing the duo’s 70-plus murals throughout the nation. The two artists have worked together over the past five years: “Remington is well known for realism and landscape paintings, while I have been focusing on geometrics and the abstract,” explains Graves, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago who cofounded Boulder’s Apollo Ink Printing, a graphic design firm and custom screen printing shop. “We combine these two to represent our joint interests.”
Although both are classically trained, Graves’s and Robinson’s individual styles produce an eye-catching marriage of hyperrealism and geometric patterns that pays special attention to color theory. Their new murals, completed the week of June 15, adorn the upper deck and main entrance to Vail Village’s parking structure, greeting visitors returning for the first time since the resort closed in mid-March.
“We designed the indoor portion of the murals to be colorful and have some movement to it as you drive through,” Graves adds. The rooftop murals are more accessible to pedestrians, arrayed to be both appreciated from a distance and snapped up-close for a selfie.
Just a few minutes’ walk away at the Vail Public Library, AIPP in mid-June also unveiled a crochet installation created by the Ladies Fancywork Society (LFS). These four crochet-obsessed best friends and guerrilla street artists (Lauren Seip, Tymla Welch, Jessica Eaton, and Jesse Dawson) have been working on their Vail installation from a studio in downtown Denver.
LFS first gained notoriety when they started planting “yarn bombs” on Denver’s bike racks, light fixtures, and statues. In recent years, their installations have become larger and more colorful, creeping like ivy over rooftops, facades, and fences (frequently documented on their Instagram feed) all around the Mile High City.
“Sometimes when people approach us, it feels like they might not fully understand our aesthetic,” says Seip. “But Vail was definitely like, ‘We love what you do, and we want you to do your thing up here.’”
LFS’s installation at the Vail Public Library includes a menagerie of whimsical yarn critters with bulging eyeballs and neon hides that officially took up residence on June 13. With Covid-19 dampening locals’ spirits, “the timing couldn’t be more perfect, since [their art] is so playful, cheerful, and visual,” says Eppard. “Hopefully it’ll make people smile.”
And the work seems especially suited to a time of social distancing. “Most of our stuff is outside, so it’s great that people are still able to view it safely,” says Seip. To facilitate this viewing, at press time Eppard hoped to restart her free public art walks touring the town’s collection on July 1, to continue every Wednesday (from 11 a.m. to noon) through August 26.
For the muralist Graves, this summer’s unaccustomed conditions only highlight the vital role of public art in fostering community. “Everything has had to be canceled,” he says. “So I can see that it’s important to have something for people to see and do.”