Pueblo’s colorful history is the theme of winning mural design for Arkansas River levee

Shanna Lewis/KRCC News
Colorado history themed murals are among these painted on the Arkansas River levee near a pedestrian bridge in Pueblo. (Dec. 28, 2022)

Imagery of Indigenous people, the steel mill and a chile pepper are part of the winning design in Pueblo’s levee mural contest. Created by local artist Desiree Talmich, the mural depicts the city’s history using an array of representations of local traditions and lore both old and new.

The design will become part of the growing series of murals painted on the 2.8-mile-long Arkansas River levee near Pueblo's historic Union Avenue district. Mural painting on the levee has a history stretching back to the 1970s and the site was once the holder of the world’s largest outdoor mural, according to Guinness World Records, a title the city hopes to regain.

In a city press release, Talmich said she “wanted to dive headfirst into the history of Pueblo” and she said she “connected with El Pueblo History Museum to make sure the information being portrayed was accurate.”

Courtesy of Desiree Talmich
The winning Pueblo history-themed mural design was selected by popular vote online in a contest sponsored by Pueblo City Council and the mayor's office.

Letters spell out the name, Pueblo, and feature the five flags on the city’s official seal as a primary component of the design. Talmich’s goal was to show the history moving from past to present as a viewer looks at each letter in sequence and the surrounding images, which include the El Pueblo Trading Post, the Great Flood of 1921 and more.

The self-taught artist grew up in Lamar and moved to Pueblo about twelve years ago. This is her second mural on the levee. She’s also looking ahead to collaborating with another area artist in the future.

She’ll get a $1,000 stipend and the city will cover her supplies. Work on the painting is expected to begin this summer. It was selected from five submissions by popular vote online earlier this year. The contest was sponsored by the Pueblo City Council and the Mayor’s Office.

“Pueblo is a melting pot of cultures, people, and experiences,” said District 3 City Councilor Sarah Martinez in the press release. “This mural was sanctioned by City Council to show this beautiful characteristic of Pueblo; to be proud of our histories and traditions while forging forward together.”

Related Stories