This project funds Denver elementary schools through Public Art

Spanning the length of the building, the mural decorating the entrance to the Highland hotspot’s Recess Beer Garden is an homage to the state of Colorado. Together, several colorful blocks of images come together to form the mural, depicting scene after scene of Mile High fun.

“365 Days Off”, reads the mural.

This piece of public art, however, serves a greater purpose than visual entertainment – is a product of the Magik Mural Project, an initiative of Denver’s Magik Studios that gives back to the community through donations to local elementary school art programs.

Photo courtesy of Magik Studios and Chayce Lanphear Photography

The Magik Mural Project began in early 2021 shortly after friends Meredith Steele and Kristen Fogarty founded Magik Studios in 2020, a Denver-based art company that creates custom, hand-painted murals to fit unique spaces in the home and businesses. Both artists individually, the two women combined their skills to create a company entirely their own – with their goals as the focus.

READ: This female painting duo is making ‘Magic’ on walls across Denver

“We wanted a piece of Magik to give back to the community,” Fogarty said. “With how much schools and teachers were being affected by the pandemic, we decided to really dig into this…we were looking at budget cuts, and arts programs were one of the first budgets to be cut.”

After seeing the effects of the pandemic, Magik Studios started the Magik Mural Project with their first piece, Colorado For People, at 3000 Zuni St with sponsorship from Cherry Creek Morgage and a donation to Valdez Elementary School.

Colorado for people Mural

Photo courtesy of Magik Studios

“It’s a way to lift up a lot of different people while working with a local business to do it,” Steele said.

Today, the project has sponsored and created three murals around the Denver area after only a year and a half of existence. Impact: nearly $7,000 donated to local schools.

“Part of the specifics of this project is that the mural should be uplifting for the community. Something about Colorado. We have sponsors who are willing to work for us on this theme,” Steele said. The project usually draws up three concepts for the murals, presents them to the sponsor, and works with the business on the favorite. Steele and Fogarty, however, like to create murals that specifically tailored to the space of each business.

The latest sponsors of the project – Recess and its sister bar fieldTRIP – perfectly fit this request with both of their murals related to the culture and outdoor spirit of Colorado. 365 Days of Recess and Take a Funky Ride are designed for their unique spaces with Colorado as inspiration. Business owner Owen Olson is also a Denver native and attended Columbine Elementary School, the school that received the project donation.

Magic Mural Project and TRIP field

Photo courtesy of Magik Studios

“We really want to impact the communities where this artwork is displayed,” Fogarty said. “Columbine Elementary, in particular, didn’t even have an arts program. They contracted another company… so it was really important to have a substantial donation to help with the funding.”

“Art has had an impact on our lives personally and, especially after 2020, I think we just saw the value of creativity. Art is what brings people out of dark times,” Fogarty explained. “We here in Denver are so lucky that art is celebrated here and that’s why Magik is truly possible. He welcomed the kind of work we wanted to do.”

Steele and Fogarty also believe that art is vital in schools and the education of young children, a reason for their project. “I think it would be very encouraging if more children saw art and creativity as a possible option for their future careers,” said Fogarty.

“It’s a really good outlet for kids, too,” Steele added. “Especially in exercising the imagination, too.”

Meredith and Kristen from Magik Studios standing in front of a mural

Photo courtesy of Magik Studios

The Magik Mural Project reached out to local sponsors for previous murals, but they are currently looking for future project locations that want to embrace their love of public art within the Denver community. While they are currently working on completing about one mural per year for the project, they hope to expand the project – possibly even outside of Denver.

“We love to see this program grow and take off and branch out into other communities,” Fogarty said. “It’s a big undertaking, but the bigger the project, the bigger the donation.”

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