Local organizations collaborate on Project Hope, using downtown newspaper racks as art canvas | SteamboatToday.com

Local organizations collaborate on Project Hope, using downtown newspaper racks as art canvas

Steamboat Pilot & Today has teamed up with Steamboat Creates for a public art collaboration in which local artists will work with groups of youth to paint the Pilot & Today’s newspaper racks in the arts district downtown.

The collaboration aims not only to spruce up the racks — many of which are covered in stickers and graffiti — but also to spread a message of hope throughout the community.

Pilot & Today Publisher Logan Molen got the idea for the project from a similar project that he saw done at a media company he previously worked with.

“When I saw it done before it was a great success, and when I came to Steamboat about three years ago and saw the condition of the newspaper racks, I thought we could do the same thing here,” Molen said.

In partnering with Steamboat Creates, Molen initially wanted the racks painted with themes of Steamboat to represent the community’s landscape, culture and history. Kim Keith, executive director of Steamboat Creates, took it a step further by incorporating the theme of hope.

“It was really born out of the pandemic, which was a very challenging time for most people,” Molen said. “The idea of offering encouragement to whoever is passing the newsstands will add a powerful component.”

Thus, the name Project Hope was born and several other local organizations, including Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide (REPS), Grand Futures and Northwest Colorado Health signed onto the project as well, to help with funding, connecting youth and searching for artists to participate.

After putting out a call for artists, six were chosen, including Cheri Duty, Jason Erwin, Johannah Hildebrand, Keri Searls, Marion Kahn and Tony Urbick.

For Duty, her decision to participate came from wanting to bring more awareness to mental health.

“Steamboat has always been good at promoting physical well-being, but the mental part of the equation has, until recently, been hidden in the shadows,” she explained. “More projects like this are essential as they show people they do not have to try and muscle through their problems independently. There are people who care and can help. I believe this is particularly important to show to children. Children often feel powerless in their lives, and this is a great project to show them otherwise.”

Each artist will bring a unique perspective to the table. Art teacher Keri Searls brings a passion for working with children and a desire to enhance the local art scene.

“I think the more places we can add art for fun around the community, the better we can represent ourselves as a creative and artistic place to visit,” Searls said.

Local youth, many of whom are on the teen council, have already begun brainstorming ideas for the project. Each artist will be paired up with a small group of youth to collaborate on ideas and painting. The groups will paint their newspaper racks at the Depot Art Center, and when they are finished, Pilot & Today will distribute the newly refurbished racks throughout the arts district.

“Having public art in the downtown area adds character to our community, and it helps communicate our authentic vibe,” Keith said. “Public art helps us tell stories and communicate our values to locals and visitors alike. Project HOPE has the power to make people feel like there are others who care and that they are not alone in their struggles.”

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