PUEBLO, Colo. — They’re big, vibrant, and all across Pueblo.
“When I showed up, I saw the space and then I just created it on the spot,” said Matte Refic, a local Pueblo artist.
For local artists like Refic, murals and graffiti are a platform that gives them a voice in the community.
“At one point in my life, the worked that I did was so looked down upon because it just had a lot of negative connotations, ’cause it was associated with graffiti art. And as I’ve evolved as an artist and I’ve remained doing the work for decades now, it’s turned into this thing where the city itself is actually very proud of it and it’s something that uplifts the whole community,” Refic said.
The art form is now a cherished part of the Watertower Place, which is currently being renovated.
“A lot of the work that’s inside of the meat packing factory is from a local art collective called, “Creatures Crew.” And we do a lot of the graffiti art and mural art around Pueblo. Artist like Grips and Vogey, Herok, and several other artists, Awful, Noche, and people from all over the country that have come to visit and painted within there,” Refic said.
Refic has been an artist for more than 30 years, but the meaning behind his work has taken on a bigger role.
“I think it’s a way for me to create something that’s uplifting to the people that are viewing it, and also the people that are participating in it. So, for me, it’s a means of actually elevating people’s moods and making them have a better perspective on what that particular neighborhood or community is all about.”
His goal? Highlight the importance of self expression and having a creative process.
It’s his main message to inmates who take his art class at the Federal Correction Complex in Florence.
“The work has evolved from something that was very personal and almost egotistical to something now where it’s just like, I just try to share love and prosperity and growth through the work and really brighten up the community with it,” Refic said.
As for his largest piece in Pueblo?
It’s called Lucky the Horse, spanning 7,000 square feet.
“It was a collaboration with me and another artist named Mike and we worked on it for about three weeks in collaboration and it’s a big icon within the city because it is so large,” Refic said.
It’s no doubt that these colorful creations accentuate an already vibrant community.
“It started as something that was somewhat grimy and underground, and now it’s just something that is very in your face and very beautiful within the city,” Refic said.
Refic says he hopes to raise funds over the next year to create a series of murals that will highlight the creativity of Pueblo.
You can check out his work in Colorado Springs at Solar Roast Coffee, which is set to open in a few weeks.