A Rolling Historical Landscape of Colorado and the West
On permanent display in the Central Library's Schlessman Hall, the mural is 130 yards long, includes 70 panels and spans the entire length of the atrium in a 360 degree panorama.
"A rolling historical landscape" of Colorado and the West is how artist Edward Ruscha describes his panoramic artwork for the Central Library. The work unfolds in epic fashion on 70 painted panels high above Schlessman Hall, and in the atriums on either side of the Hall.
The complete artwork took more than two years to produce from concept to finished canvas. It was commissioned for the Denver Public Library by the Denver Mayor's Office of Art, Culture and Film, which awards one percent of major public construction budgets for original art. A panel of local art and design professionals, and library and community representatives selected Ruscha's entry from more than 400 submissions in a national competition.
Anamorphic writing in the tepee panels reads: Ouray, Ute Jack, Colorow, Black Kettle and Chipeta, all leaders of the Ute Indian tribe. The anamorphic writing in panel T reads Baby Doe, miner and wife of Horace Tabor, and near the postmark in panel W reads Soapy Smith, a famous Western flimflam man.
Voice prints "came about by accident" admits the artist. "Reading the history of Colorado Indians made me think of voices from the past. The use of anamorphics planted a vertical notion in my mind, and the voice prints evolved into acoustically vertical images." The buffalo panel voice prints signify one-and-one-half seconds of a stampede and the beast's snorts and sneezes. The trill of a lark bunting accents the painting of the Colorado State Bird. For additional prints, the artist's wife read selected words aloud, which were then transposed, via computer, into graphic prints.
Ruscha shipped the finished paintings to Denver in June 1995. The six day installation took place at night while the Library was closed.