Client:  Downtown Ventures

Sponsor:  Colorado Springs Philharmonic

Public art

The Colorado Springs Philharmonic, is celebrating Leonard Bernstein in their 2018 season. The late composer would’ve turned 100 in 2018, and the Philharmonic wanted to make a big statement about his contributions to music and the arts. Our mural design was selected by Downtown Ventures and installed on vinyl on the El Paso County Sheriff’s building near Tejon Street and Vermijo Avenue in Downtown Colorado Springs. 

The cement grid

The installation site for the mural design was a massive cement wall imprinted with a grid of golden-ratio rectangles. We visited the building and took photos from the sidewalk, the other side of the street, the opposite corner, etc. This led to two major conclusions: First, we had to break the mural design into pieces that visually activated more space than the allotted square footage of vinyl. Second, the best way to make the piece look like permanent art instead of a temporary advertisement was to work with the grid.

Symphonic music

The Philharmonic wanted the mural design to represent symphonic music without using musical notation. To address this, we thought about the nature of a symphony: Many pieces, each with their own identity, each complementing and enhancing the other, coming together to create a whole greater than the sum of its parts—the unity of melodies and harmonies into a cohesive composition. This is shown in the way many pieces, each with unique colors and patterns, are unified in our mural design.

Honoring a master

Doing justice to Bernstein’s life and work took a good deal of thought, as well. Like a symphony, he was an amalgamation. The color palette of our mural design demonstrates the diversity of his work: from bright and poppy to cool and contemplative.

We also took an artistic approach to Bernstein’s likeness, allowing it to display the multidimensional nature of his music and life. Finally, the use of line represents the internal and external conflicts of Bernstein’s life and the beauty that emerged from them. The idea of conflict also comes through in the quote the Philharmonic chose to feature in the mural:

“This will be our response to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
~ Leonard Bernstein

Read the complete story about the selection process and our Bernstein at 100 mural design in our blog.

“It was a great pleasure to work with Kettle Fire Creative on the Bernstein at 100 mural for the Downtown Creative District. When presented with a constraining design challenge and a tricky concept, Kettle Fire’s proposal exceeded our expectations by leaps and bounds. The final product was well-researched and profoundly moving. Rather than being hampered by the design constraints, their design soared with them, turning them into an asset rather than a challenge. Throughout the process the Kettle Fire team communicated clearly, responded with a can-do attitude, and worked hard to deliver a beautiful product that fit our needs precisely.”

Claire Swinford

Visit Downtown Ventures

Bernstein at 100 mural design Kettle Fire Creative Downtown Colorado Springs mural design Mural Design Bernstein at 100 bernstein installed

The inspirational quote and intricate design engage viewers at street level.

Bernstein at 100 mural design Kettle Fire Creative Downtown Colorado Springs mural design Mural Design Bernstein at 100 bernstein layout grid

The impact of the mural design is maximized by working with the grid on the wall.

Bernstein at 100 mural design Kettle Fire Creative Downtown Colorado Springs mural design Mural Design Bernstein at 100 bernstein portrait closeup

Vector art of Bernstein’s face conveys his multi-faceted character.

Bernstein at 100 mural design Kettle Fire Creative Downtown Colorado Springs mural design Mural Design Bernstein at 100 bernstein installation

The vinyl pieces were installed with heat guns and will last up to 10 years.

Bernstein at 100 mural design Kettle Fire Creative Downtown Colorado Springs mural design Mural Design Bernstein at 100 bernstein installed wide

The vibrant colors are drawn from West Side Story, one of Bernstein’s most famous compositions.

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