Artist puts his heart into his work for Basalt mural project
Public arts commission spruces up town with seven murals
John Przonek figured the world could use some positive energy after a nasty election, the pandemic and all-too-frequent mass shootings.
So when he was selected as one of the artists in the Basalt mural project, he knew exactly what to pursue. He created a 3D American flag with a few special touches.
A 5-by-10-foot flag was painted onto the back of the bus stop at Lions Park in Basalt, complete with red and white stripes and a blue square where the stars typically go. Przonek erected a linear hangar and attached cables via horseshoes signifying good luck.
From the cables he hung additional red stripes that are covered with red, blue and silver steel hearts. The decorated red stripes hang a few inches out from the painted flag, creating the 3D feel. In the blue rectangle of the painted flag he installed a large metal heart.
The mural — “Meeting of the heARTS” — was completed Wednesday.
“This whole thing is about spreading a positive affirmation every day,” Przonek said. “Every single person who has seen has been smiling.”
Przonek said he hopes to inspire people to love themselves, love their neighbors and love their country.
“Meeting of the heARTS” is part of the Basalt Public Arts Commission’s mural project. Seven muralists were selected to place their work in highly visible sites around Basalt. The goal is to keep six of the pieces on public property up for two years, though there is no guarantee. The other piece is on private property and will be up for at least one year.
The Basalt Public Arts Commission’s goal is to make art more accessible in the town. In addition to Przonek’s piece, the murals are:
Seth Weber, Paonia, created a mural featuring a woman on a bicycle on a town-owned building by the Willits rugby field.
Ali O’Neal, Carbondale, created a water conservation mural on the back of the stage at Lions Park.
Teal Wilson, Snowmass Village, created a fish mural on the building at 525 Basalt Ave.
Rae Lampe, Aspen, created the colorful mural on the west side of Town Hall.
Charles Andrade, Basalt, painted the stag on the front of the Art Base building on Midland Spur.
Max Kauffman, Denver, is completing a mural in Willits.
Przonek said his fiancée left him a newspaper clipping about BPAC soliciting ideas for murals. He said he immediately sat down and worked on “chicken scratches” about his idea. It ended up taking him six days to prepare a formal proposal. He was thrilled to learn within four days that his concept was selected.
Then hard work began.
The 86 hearts for the mural were plasma cut from 16-gauge steel. Master blacksmith Vaughn Shaffer of El Jebel guided Przonek and other helpers through that special process. The varying quality of the work by the different cutters is obvious, Przonek said. He decided that was a nice touch.
“Every heart has its own scars,” he said. “That’s why we didn’t make them all perfect.”
Przonek, a Basalt resident, has a college degree in graphic design and has dabbled in art for years while also working as a builder of bars, houses and other structures in the valley.
“This is the first big public piece of art I’ve been able to get my name on,” he said. “I’m just glad to share my art with other people.”
Rest areas and recreation facilities along Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, including boat put-ins, trails and the paved bike path, have been routinely closed to nonpermit public use during flash flood watches.
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