The Whittier Alley Loop is a community project initiated by the Whittier Neighborhood Association and local designers. The purpose of this project is to activate underutilized public spaces and promote positive interaction among neighbors within the Whittier community. To achieve this, public art works created by local artists will promote the neighborhood’s rich culture and history. The artists have a variety of backgrounds and viewpoints, and have been working with community members to help define the artworks. An Outdoor Reading Area will also be added to the Ford-Warren Library, and new events will be sponsored, including Outdoor Movie Nights at Madame C.J. Walker Park.
Our hope is for improved aesthetics and an increased sense of community pride. We have already received a $7,000 grant from the City of Denver and now we need the neighborhood's help to raise the remaining funds required. Our goal of $4,831 represents $1 for each person living in Whittier. Your donation will go directly towards making this project a reality, whether it's funding the artwork and artists, materials for the outdoor reading area, or paint for the Alley Loop.
About the Project:
Currently one of the most diverse neighborhoods in all of Colorado, the Whittier neighborhood is located in northeast Denver, in between the Five Points and City Park neighborhoods. In April 2014, there was an event that brought the community together in response to racist letters being distributed throughout parts of the Whittier community. In response to these racist letters, which amplify the need to connect diverse neighbors, the community has come together with a unified voice and is looking for ways to meaningfully connect with one another.
The Loop will be located on four alleyways between Williams, High and Race Streets, from 28th Avenue to 30th Avenue. This location was chosen because of the history of the area, and the connection to neighborhood assets such as the Ford-Warren Library, the Red Shield Community Center, Manual High School and Madame C.J. Walker Park.
The Loop will start at Madam C.J. Walker Park, near the intersection of the Race/High Street alleyway and E 30th Avenue. As late as 1950, a "color line" ran through this neighborhood in the alleyway between Race and High Streets, defining where black and white families were supposed to live. By focusing on this terrible history, we can remember the struggles of past generations, and strive to address the issues we have today.
The main component of the Loop are lines: two separated lines represent this "color line". The lines begin to join together, more lines are added, and interact with other surfaces of the alleyway, to symbolize a now unified and diverse neighborhood.
Community planning and input began in April 2014, and continued through the fall and winter. Input and ideas were received through public meetings, emails, and online posts. In August 2014 the project was awarded a place making grant through the Denver Department of Arts and Venues. In November and December 2014, community members, including students from Manual High School, selected the final ideas to be incorporated into the project (see below). The artists and designers have worked with community members to research the subjects of neighborhood history and diversity. Throughout the process, team members have been working with property owners and renters along the route to ensure all voices are heard, and as a result, side projects have been created to address longstanding community concerns. Construction of the project will begin in May 2015, and will finish with a celebration on May 24th, 2015. The Loop will be maintained continuously by students from Manual High School and volunteer community members.
The Alley Loop features 9 main elements:
1. Alley Loop lines
The Alley Loop is a 1/2 mile path made up of lines on the ground that connect public spaces and art work. The Loop begins at the north east corner of Madame C.J. Walker Park. Alley 1 is located along the one-time “color line”. During the 1920’s and 1930’s this informal line was used as a neighborhood demarcation line to enforce segregation between white and black households. The two separate parallel lines along the alley symbolize this terrible time in the history of the neighborhood.
The neighborhood eventually became integrated through the efforts of brave community leaders and members. Their history will be featured in historical markers along Alley 1.
Alleys 2, 3 and 4 complete the Loop. The lines will connect spaces along the Loop, including the Outdoor Reading area, the Murals and Walker Park. These alleys will feature stencils of quotes from community members.
2. Outdoor Reading Area
The Outdoor Reading Area will be a new community space outside the Ford-Warren Library. It will feature seating for reading, a story time area, native plantings, a sculpture and two murals (Numbers 3, 4 and 5 below).
3. "Reader" Sculpture-by Bob Ragland
The "Reader" will be a 3'-6" tall sculpture by artist Bob Ragland. The sculpture will be located in the Outdoor Reading Area of the Ford-Warren Library. Bob Ragland is a Whittier resident and professional artist. His works are featured in the permanent collection of the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art.
4. "Diversity" Mural-by Jaime Molina and Pedro Barrios, and Project Voyce Students at Manual High School.
This mural will be a collaboration between artists Jaime Molina and Pedro Barrios, and Project Voyce students at Manual High School. The students have been working in special classes with project leaders to define diversity in their own terms. The artists will continue to work with them to make these ideas graphic, and the students will also participate in painting the mural.
Jaime Molina and Pedro Barrios are Denver artists who frequently collaborate on murals. Their artworks have been featured in many local and national galleries, and they were awarded a grant from the Urban Arts Fund to paint a mural along the Cherry Creek Trail.
Project Voyce is a Denver based nonprofit whose mission is to empower youth to create change within themselves, their schools, their communities, and the world.
5. "Be Kind" Mural- by Dwayne Glapion
The “Be Kind” mural will be a juxtaposition of community member’s names and graphics to form the words “be kind”. In April 2014, an anonymous hate letter was distributed to certain blocks of the Whittier neighborhood. The letter contained many hateful remarks, and many residents became alarmed and wanted to find a way that they could show unity and support for each other. The community focused on the word “kind” and cards were made that people could place in their windows. The theme of this mural is to show that a neighborhood's strength comes from individuals who come together as a community to support each other.
The mural will also be a way to acknowledge and thank all those community members that volunteer or donate to the project, while also symbolizing neighborhood diversity and unity.
Dwayne Glapion is an award winning Denver artist. Dwayne earned a Bachelors degree from the Art Institute of Colorado in graphic design after serving in the military. He specializes in combining traditional art techniques with modern digital art tools.
6. "Neighborhood" Poem and Words- by Uche Ohaya
In two locations, a series of connected hexagons will feature poems and words by Uche Ohaya. The poems will be located in Alleyways 3 and 4, near the 29th Avenue intersection.
Uche Ohaya is a poet, a Site Coordinator with Project Voyce, and a student at Metropolitan State University.
7. Community Chalkboard
The Community Chalkboard will be located at Madame C.J. Walker Park. During the community planning phase, many residents supported a community chalkboard idea. The Chalkboard will be a place where kids can draw, people can share ideas, events, recipes, and their own art.
8. "Bee Bridge" Mural- by Feile Case
The “Bee Bridge” will be a mural by artist, Feile Case. It will be located at the High Street cul-de-sac at Madame C.J. Walker Park.
"After hearing of the initial proposed project my first vision I was inspired to render an Asian inspired, triangularly balanced three part image consisting of three elements. The sky (in blue and white, representing air or space) and Honey Bees (representing humankind/man or the individual, the viewer) and their Honey Comb (in yellow, representing earth and home). As the artwork would be a part of a community installation I see the Honey BEE Colony as quite representative of a sensitive and productive Community that works for the betterment of all involved. Honey Bees have a single mind set and work as a colony in unison to accomplish the needs of the colony and only do what is necessary or best for the community."- Feile Case
Feile Case is a Whittier resident and professional artist. He draws attention to our humanity with skillful, bold strokes and vibrant symbolism while employing experimental materials and techniques.
9. Outdoor Movie Nights- A large open field located at Madame C.J. Walker park will be the venue for three outdoor movie events over the summer of 2015.
The Whittier Alley Loop project team is made up of Whittier residents including community leaders, urban designers, architects, artists, graphic artists, contractors, historians and students. Many residents contributed to the project through public design activities. This project would not be possible without the support of Denver Arts and Venues, Denver Public Works, Denver Public Libraries, Denver Parks & Recreation, and Project Voyce.
Project Creation and Leadership:
-Darrell Watson- President of the Whittier Neighborhood Association
-Brian Choquette- Lead designer, planner and coordinator
-Levi Johnson- grant writing and research
-Kent Simpson- Vice President of the Whittier Neighborhood Association
-Feile Case- designer
-Benjamin Chenard- history research, WNA board member
-Paul Goss- lead designer
-Anne Kemmerling- history research
-Sir Martin- Project Voyce Site coordinator- Manual High School
-Broox Pulford- designer
-Allison Rankin- community outreach, WNA board member
-Ryan Sand- lead designer
-Eric Sherman- designer
-Mark Ungar- designer, community coordinator, WNA board member
- “Reader” Sculpture- Bob Ragland
-"Bee Bridge" Mural- Feile Case
-"Be Kind" Mural- Dwayne Glapion
-History and Quotes graphic design- Broox Pulford
-"Neighborhood" Poetry & Words- Uche Ohaya
Risks and challenges
Success for a project of this scale requires coordination among the project leaders, artists, and builders. It also requires the support and participation of the residents and businesses that are within the Whittier neighborhood. The project team has spent 11 months of planning and outreach to collect as much input as possible and minimize potential issues.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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