Building Community Through Art

Klimt, The Kiss, Loveland Colorado

“THE KISS” – Loveland Version, 15 x 15 feet.

2020 is our fourth year to create a giant community art piece in downtown Loveland, Colorado. For the design each year I’ve spoofed a famous fine art painting, giving each one a Valentine’s Day twist and a nod to Loveland.

This year I chose Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt, and his iconic 1908 painting, The Kiss.

If you look closely you can see Dan Cupid aiming his arrow at the couple. Dan Cupid is the character who shows up in the special postmark each year for Loveland’s famous valentine re-mailing program. He’s kind of a Loveland mascot, at least around Valentine’s Day, so he made his way into the design this year.

Dan Cupid, Loveland Community Mural

Detail showing Dan Cupid

The painting of the mural takes place during Loveland’s annual Valentine’s Day Street festival. This year there were 400 tiles, each painted by festival-goers; young and old, skilled and unskilled, first-timers and returnees. I received many enthusiastic comments from folks who are thankful for this community project, letting me know that people value the experience. That’s worth a lot to me!

Four years ago, my motive for creating the mural event sprung from a perceived need and a desire to build community. After the 2016 election, so much of the country seemed so divided and angry, even in my hometown of Loveland.

Today, four years later, the climate doesn’t seem much better to me, except that I now hear more voices calling for listening to, and understanding, one another in respectful dialogue. (Click here to see a favorite example of mine). I believe those voices are correct. The unhealthy alternative of perpetual division is too disheartening to live with. What a dysfunctional mess to leave to our children.

I don’t see much hope that presidents and elected politicians are capable of bringing healing to our divided nation. It’s up to us to do that at a grass roots level. It’s up to us to restore the vanishing art of respectful disagreement. Let us connect with our neighbors and get to know them, especially those who may see things differently than we do.

Even though a community mural is not going to transform the social climate, I think it’s one small step in the right direction. Combined with many other small steps, perhaps we can eventually find that we have arrived at a more caring and unified place as a society.

Big thanks again to all of my amazing volunteers at Beggars’ Gate Church!
Thanks also to Loveland Downtown Partnership and the Loveland Chamber of Commerce for their support!

Scott Freeman public art

My valentine to my wife. (I’m too skinny to get a real tattoo).



5 comments on “Building Community Through Art

  1. Frank says:

    “respectful disagreement” — That was very good. It brings together both important attitudes which should be exemplified civil society in general, and by followers of Christ specifically (and yours truly often fails at the former, at least when commiserating with others in private).

    My pastor has stated recently that he’s stopped praying for revival because revival of society won’t come without revival of the individuals that make up society, and that begins with us. So if we want revival, we must first exemplify that revival in our own lives and hope it spills outward. I suppose the same could be said for the peace and civility about which you wrote. If we want civility, it begins with ourselves initiating it.

    Nice art, too! (Did you see that film about the Klimt painting, where the family member was trying to reclaim it after after WWII, where it had been taken from her family by the nazis?)

  2. Frank says:

    By the way, I wasn’t suggesting that we should “disagree” with everyone. I meant that, where truth matters, we should stand for truth, even if we must disagree with others.

    • Thanks, Frank. I think respectful disagreement might not be easy for many people. I’ve heard so many people say they avoid confrontation. I think a lot of people have wounds and bad experiences from past encounters, or maybe not enough emotional capacity to forbear an insult. I guess I’m pretty surprised that so many people who identify as Christians are quick to return an insult, choosing to “protect themselves” rather than enduring a wrong for the sake of a greater and better goal. Because Jesus modeled this so explicitly. I agree it is difficult, and that is part of why we must initiate.

      Do you know the name of that movie? Someone else mentioned it to me during the festival.
      I’m kinda surprised the Nazis would want a Klimt painting. I would/ve expected them to consider his work “degenerate”.

  3. Alison Rogers Ramsey says:

    Mighty fine!! Scott, you’re so cool & on fire – how is this possible?! ❤️

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