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Change for Pagosa - future, arts, community
Friday, November 12, 2010

Change for Pagosa is not a well-known project in Pagosa Springs … yet.

But, if you haven’t already taken notice, you will soon start seeing the civic and cultural impacts of this new community initiative.

Change for Pagosa arose from the vision of several local visual artists, including Sabine Baeckmann-Elge, who saw the need for aesthetic change in the Pagosa Springs Downtown Historic Business District through creation of a new mural in the 400 block of San Juan Street. Not long thereafter, Mary Jo Coulehan, director, and Autumn Daily, events coordinator, of the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, acted to form a project development team that would create the vision, develop the plan and implement the Mural on Main Project, the first of many projects to change the way Pagosa feels and is received through its visual arts, music and dance.

We want to bring a new level of activity into our community through the many talents of our local artists. We want to create a tipping point in Pagosa Springs that will positively bring local talent into the streets of our community.

The Mural on Main Project will create a new green-design public pocket park in the 400 block of Pagosa Street between the Rannt Group, LLC property (jointly owned by Ray and JoAnn Laird and Tim and Cindy Plate) located at 414 Pagosa St. and The Rose Restaurant located at 408 Pagosa St. The Mural on Main Project will replace the deteriorated mural and wall structure at the same location.

The park will showcase a new mural artwork currently being created by Jeffry Haas and Hayley Goodman, a junior studying art education at Colorado State University, in collaboration with emerging youth artists and recent Pagosa Springs High School graduates Jacob Faber, Rachel E. Jensen and Betsy Schur. For their participation in the Mural on Main Project, each of the three high school graduates will be eligible to receive a scholarship award of up to $500; the award amount will depend on the students’ respective project participation. The mural and accompanying scholarships are being funded through the generous donations of David J. and Carol Brown, and Lal and Linda Echterhoff — donations totaling $6,200 plus interest, which allowed for work to begin on the mural in mid-May.

The Haas-Goodman mural, featuring the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area and imagery of wild running horses, embodies the free, pioneering spirit of the Southwest with a unique futuristic perspective and freshness. The project development team graciously thanks horse owner Matt Poma for his generosity in facilitating Jeffry Haas’ photography shoot for this mural design. The design is dynamic, encompassing the historic and aesthetic beauty of the Pagosa Springs area in an approachable manner. The mural portion of the Mural on Main Project just achieved its second milestone; the project development team gave their approval of the full-scale detail design and mural painting has commenced.

The Mural on Main Project is being accomplished through a multi-governmental, multi-cultural and multi-generational approach, involving the in-kind partnership of the Town of Pagosa Springs, Pagosa Springs Historic Preservation Board, Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, Pagosa Springs Arts Council, Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library of the Upper San Juan Library District, CenturyTel, adjacent property owner, JoAnn Laird, Dale Smith of Fänas Architecture P.C., and various local professional artists. CenturyTel’s generous donation of the property, U.S. 160 frontage, for use in this project is most appreciated by the project development team and will facilitate the project’s implementation.  

The planned Mural on Main Project pocket park will; 1) provide a strategic arts, cultural and education-based venue for the relaxation, contemplation and enjoyment of visitors and residents of the Downtown Historic Business District; 2) represent the second public open space to be created within the Downtown Historic Business District and the first to be developed within the 400 block of Pagosa Street; 3) enhance recent and all future historic preservation improvements of the Pagosa Springs area; and 4) increase the economic vitality of the community’s commercial core by encouraging walking traffic in the area.

The Mural on Main Project pocket park, consistent with the goals and guidelines of the Town’s adopted Comprehensive Plan, Downtown Master Plan and Historic Business District Guidelines, will employ local natural materials and other elements to project the rich, diverse cultural history and magnificent natural aesthetic beauty of the Pagosa Springs area.

To create further momentum for Change for Pagosa, a subset of the Mural on Main Project development team has also become involved in fund raising for the Pagosa Mountain Hospital Tree Carving Project, with the cooperation of PMH chief executive officer Brad Cochennet. The Tree Carving Project includes the carving of the three “fallen” trees located just outside the hospital’s South Pagosa Boulevard main entrance. The trees will be carved, in-kind, in part, by Chad Haspels, who began carving the first tree on June 30, through the generous underwriting of the Dr. Mary Fisher Foundation.

 This project, through the in-kind donation of Michael and Diane Killen of High Horse Productions, will be documented in a video capturing Haspels as he transforms these fallen soldiers of time into a new sculptural healing force of life; the grouping will become the “Healing Waters of Pagosa”. The shortest tree (to the east of the grouping) will represent a bear with a fish. The tree closest to the hospital entrance will represent a stylized figure facing the entryway and holding a vessel of pouring water. The middle tree, which Haspels is currently carving, will be a free form design to represent falling and cascading water. The top of this sculpture will have a stylized eagle, and will flow into organic curves below. The wood sculptural maquettes carved by Haspels as models for his full-scale carvings will be awarded by the Dr. Mary Fisher Foundation to selected major donors to the Hospital’s Tree Carving Project. These maquettes are on display at the Pagosa Mountain Hospital.

We have unveiled both Change for Pagosa projects at the Pagosa Springs Arts Council’s recent annual meeting, and now we are unveiling the project to the rest of our community, complete with the full conceptual rendition graciously rendered in-kind by local consulting designer, David Parker.

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council is commended for its significant efforts in developing and managing the call to artists, artist proposal bid evaluation and public art agreement required to implement the Mural on Main Project. Acting as the fiscally responsible agent and a contracting entity with project management responsibility for a portion of the project, the council has written five grant proposals and conducted other fund-raising efforts to fund the Mural on Main Project and sustain Change for Pagosa through 2010.

At the council’s meeting, we raised $2,600 for the Tree Carving Project, placing us within $1,700 of this project’s funding goal, and $3,000 away from the necessary funds to carve a fourth, dying tree located near the hospital’s emergency entrance, another near-term goal of Change for Pagosa. The project development team thanks major Tree Carving Project donors Pamela Hamilton and Steve Levy along with Cindy and Ron Gustafson and Dale and Jeanine Malaney for their generous financial support of this significant project.

While full funding has been secured for the mural, we are still in need of significant funding for the pocket park for the Mural on Main Project, which will include a new stone-facade wall structure in which the mural will be placed. Recently the project development team received notification from the El Pomar Foundation of an award of $2,500 for the Mural on Main Project pocket park. Nonetheless, despite our diligent grant writing effort, we are seeking local funds for the pocket park to reach this project’s funding goal.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to see a new mural and pocket park on Pagosa Street and the trees carved at the Pagosa Mountain Hospital? If you share our vision and want to be instrumental in making a difference in Pagosa Springs, be a part of this effort and donate to the Change for Pagosa initiative. Any donation amount is welcomed; small or large. Your financial support will help us move Pagosa into a community filled with the visual arts, music and dance.

To make a donation to either project, or both, mail or bring your check payable to the Pagosa Springs Arts Council, Attention: Linda Echterhoff, President, 315 Hermosa St., P.O. Box 533, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147, or mail or bring your check payable to the Dr. Mary Fisher Foundation, Attention: Kelly Johnson, Administrative Coordinator, 95 South Pagosa Blvd., Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. Be sure to include a note on the memo line of your check indicating how the funds are to be used, i.e., For Mural on Main Project, For Hospital Tree Carving Project, For Change for Pagosa.

Funds received for Change for Pagosa will be shared equally, or as you desire, amongst all the Change for Pagosa projects.

For more information on Change for Pagosa please contact Autumn Daily at 264-2360, visit, contact Linda Echterhoff, at 946-3693 or visit