Steamboat Springs As of Thursday, it didn’t look like much of anything. The tall, dull gray panels fastened to a wall in a large downtown Steamboat Springs garage don’t look fit to represent much more than an interior wall of the Death Star.
It’s those panels, however — covered with a brightly painted mural and installed in front of the large brick wall on the side of Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare in downtown Steamboat — that local cycling activists hope represent the community initiative they’ve been engineering for the past two years.
“We sat down on Monday and only had about $750 outstanding,” Bike Town USA’s Betsy Nuaman Cook said. “So we asked around for more money. We asked if we put up half the remaining amount, would someone match. Jim Schneider with the ski area said they would, and now we have enough to finish the project.”
The mural, which will celebrate cycling in its various forms in Steamboat, has undergone some changes since it was first proposed last year, and even since talks got serious earlier this year.
Now, with fundraising goals reached thanks to private donors, things are getting started.
Artist Chula Beauregard on Friday began painting her design onto the panels, which themselves represent the biggest change to her plans.
They are made from an aluminum composite material and will be installed in front of a wooden skeleton.
“It will look like the old-time kind of mural if it’s on the brick, but at the same time, so many people have supported this and given a lot to make it happen that it needs to be a product that lasts.”
She said that by using the panels rather than painting on the old brick, her art will weather time much more effectively.
“It’s lightweight, a little flexible, and it will last for a generation,” Beauregard said.
The recent progress comes after a period of frustration, organizers said.
Beauregard led the charge in applying for grants for the downtown work but was dismayed to not land any of them.
Still, the group came up with the money it needed from private sources.
“Some people added more than they were going to give. We found a lot of dedication to this. People really wanted to see it get off the ground,” she said.
The final version of the mural will incorporate many aspects of Steamboat Springs. A portion with a rider on a road bike includes a ranch in the background. An area featuring a mountain biker is clearly set on Howelsen Hill, one of Steamboat’s favorite places to ride. Another painted biker represents downhill mountain biking and features Steamboat Ski Area in the background.
“Anyone who’s trying to create an identity in a town needs a mural for it,” Beauregard said. “That can really speak it in a half-second. People seeing this, then looking around town can realize, ‘These people are into biking. They mean it.’”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com