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Future Walls: Q&A with mural artist Mat Taylor

In the alley off Santa Fe Ave. between 6th Street and 7th Street. Photo by Nick Naglich

In the last couple of years murals have been springing up over what has been dubbed Pueblo’s Creative Corridor between Main Street and Union Ave. But other parts of the city are seeing them, too. “If you go and drive through the alley ways on the East Side or Bessemer, they (the alleys) are filled with street art,” said Mat Taylor, a local artists who is at the center of Pueblo’s rising mural culture, at a recent presentation. This October Taylor and a group of artists and supporters are hosting the first High Desert Mural Festival. Six to 10 artists will paint around 10 murals in Pueblo’s Creative Corridor, where the group is focusing for the festival’s launch. PULP talked to Taylor about the murals and the event.

PULP: The event’s Indiegogo video talks a lot about the problems Pueblo is facing – unemployment, an underperforming school district, run down parts of town – what was it about that combination of challenges that brought you to the idea of a mural festival?

Mat Taylor: The Mural festival was an idea that we started talking about a couple of years ago when we painted the Lucky the Horse mural on Main Street. Hanging around downtown, and having an art studio a gallery and an apartment down there I started seeing how a great deal of the alley ways were in need of a little attention. Knowing how murals are a cheap and effective way to make things look nice the mural festival really started to become a solid idea and a real possibility.

PULP: What do you want these murals to say about Pueblo?

Matt Taylor: I would like these murals to be a symbol of Pueblo commitment to creativity, growth and change. And that we can embrace our downfalls and make something amazing out of it. And that we can do it together as a community.

PULP: Obviously, these are large pieces of art and take a lot of time. What’s the process like for planning a mural?

Mat Taylor: The process for making the murals is the same as any art project, just the scale is different. Acquiring the resources to accomplish such a large project is far more extensive as is the amount of physical labor involved.  Like all art every artist has their own way of approaching the projects.

PULP: How do you think the community has responded to the murals that have already been completed?

Mat Taylor: I would say that the overall response of the murals has been positive. They represent growth and creativity. I have met a few people who are opposed to them but that’s like, 1 in 100 that are negative. I see people everyday photographing the murals and taking photos in front of them. As where before they were blank walls now they are a place for people to go and see and enjoy.

PULP: Also in the video you note that these murals aren’t the final answer to revitalization in Pueblo, but more of a stepping stone. From an artist’s perspective, what does the rest of that path look like?

Mat Taylor: Due to a poor economy here in Pueblo a lot of our central business district has been left neglected and partially abandoned. To me, this blight only encourages more blight and more negative ways of thinking.

I don’t hold the building owners responsible for this because in many cases it’s just not feasible to fix and maintain these buildings. Well, not in the current model of the way the city is set up and organized.

The murals are a way in which we as a community can come together and use our resources not as an ultimate fix to what are problems in our city but a way for us to move forward in a way that will have massive change visually to our city. I think that artists taking the time and effort to make that which has been left neglected look nice and fresh, sends a message that this area is no longer neglected and it can potentially change the course of the downtown itself. If anything it will create an interesting place in Pueblo for people to go and see.

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Written by Kara Mason

Profile photo of Kara Mason

Kara Mason is PULP's news editor. She is also the Society of Professional Journalists Colorado Pro Chapter president. Kara freelances for other regional publications, covering government, politics and the environment.

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