Local artist brightens up empty library space with colorful fish creation with a message | SteamboatToday.com

Local artist brightens up empty library space with colorful fish creation with a message

A painting by Steamboat Springs resident Juan Diego graces the chalkboard at the Bud Werner Memorial Library.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs resident and painter Juan Diego loves the environment. So, when he was given the chance to liven up the now-empty cafe at Bud Werner Memorial Library, he painted a colorful fish with a nature scene within its scales.

The library asked Juan Diego, a frequent patron who shares his environmental artwork with the front desk, to paint something on the chalkboard to liven up the space.

“It’s been closed because of COVID, and we’ve had this giant, gaping space that’s usually a place of community and activity,” said Jennie Lay, adult programs coordinator. “It’s a bright, sparkly space, and it’s kind of quiet right now since we moved all the furniture out.”

Rather than just painting a pretty picture, Diego decided to use the painting to share a message about how precious our environment and animals are.

“I believe the world is like a house,” he said. “Everybody, you clean your house of trash, and you put trash in one room where nothing happens.”

He hopes humans can learn to take care of the planet as they do their homes.

Diego chose a fish because the Yampa River is a popular fishing destination for residents and visitors to Steamboat alike. A fish is a symbol that is close to the community and may be more relatable than any other animal. Diego hopes associating an animal well-known and loved will make people consider the importance of keeping the Yampa and other rivers clean.

Diego grew up in Tabasco, Mexico, and lived in Cancun and Acapulco before moving to Colorado about 10 years ago. He remembers those cities being overrun by garbage and pollution and wants to keep Steamboat from suffering the same fate.

“In Mexico, it’s real, real bad. Everywhere you look, there’s trash,” he said. “People kill animals. It’s really bad. Here, it’s not too bad.”

The fish is colorful with a pink head, bright red fins and a yellow and green tail. Rather than paint scales, Diego inserted a scene in the middle. It appears to be the Yampa River Core Trail, complete with a path, trees, the river and a field, all under a blue sky and puffy clouds.

Diego has other completed art works for sale, but doesn’t have an official sales outlet. If anyone is interested in purchasing his pieces, they can leave a voicemail or text him on his personal phone at 970-761-5672.

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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