Spanning the length of the building, the mural decorating the entrance to Highland’s hotspot Recess Beer Garden is a homage to the state of Colorado. Together, several colorful blocks of images come together to form the mural, depicting scene after scene of Mile High fun.
“365 Days of Recess,” the mural reads.
This piece of public art, however, serves a large purpose than visual entertainment – it’s a product of the Magik Mural Project, an initiative of Denver’s Magik Studios that gives back to the community through donations to local elementary schools’ art programs.
The Magik Mural Project launched in early 2021 shortly after friends Meredith Steele and Kristen Fogarty founded Magik Studios in 2020, a Denver-based art company that creates custom, hand-painted murals to fit unique spaces in homes and businesses. Both artists individually, the two women combined their skills to create a company entirely their own – with their goals as the focus.
“We wanted to have a part of Magik giving back to the community,” said Fogarty. “With how much schools and teachers were being affected by the pandemic, we decided to really delve into that…we were looking into budget cuts and art programs were one of the first budgets to be cut.”
After witnessing the effects of the pandemic, Magik Studios kickstarted to Magik Mural Project with their first piece, Colorado For People, at 3000 Zuni St with sponsorship by Matthew Hibler from Cherry Creek Morgage and a donation to Valdez Elementary School.
“It’s a way of uplifting a lot of different people while working with a local business to do so,” said Steele.
Today, the project has sponsored and created three murals around the Denver area after only a year and a half of existence. The impact: nearly $7,000 has been donated to local schools.
“Part of the specifics of this project is that the mural has to be uplifting to the community. Something about Colorado. We have sponsors who are willing to work on us with that theme,” said Steele. The project typically designs three concepts for the murals, presents them to the sponsor, and works with the business on the favorite. Steele and Fogarty, however, like to create murals to specifically fit the space of each business.
The project’s most recent sponsors — Recess and its sister bar fieldTRIP — fit that requirement perfectly with both of their murals tying into Colorado’s outdoor culture and spirit. 365 Days of Recess and Take a Funky Ride are designed for their one-of-a-kind spaces with Colorado as inspiration. The business’s owner, Owen Olson, is also a Denver native and attended Columbine Elementary, the school that received the project’s donation.
“We really want to impact the communities where this artwork is displayed,” said Fogarty. “Columbine Elementary, in particular, didn’t even have an art program. They outsourced to another company…so it was really important to have a sizable donation to help with the funding.”
“Art has had an impact on our lives personally and, especially after 2020, I think we just saw the value of creativity. Art is what lifts people out of dark times,” explained Fogarty. “We here in Denver are so lucky that art is celebrated here and it’s why Magik is really possible. It welcomed the kind of work we wanted to do.”
Steele and Fogarty also believe that art is vital in schools and the education of young children, a reason behind their project. “I think it would be very encouraging if more kids saw art and creative pursuits as a viable option for their future careers,” said Fogarty.
“It’s such a great outlet for kids, too,” added Steele. “Especially in exercising imagination, too.”
The Magik Mural Project approached the local sponsors for the previous murals, but they are currently on the lookout for future project locations that want to embrace their love of public art within the Denver community. While they are currently working on completing about one mural per year for the project, they hope to expand the project — possibly even outside of Denver.
“We love to see this program grow and take off and branch into other communities,” said Fogarty. “It’s a large undertaking, but the bigger the project, the bigger the donation.”
Learn more at magikstudios.co.