Painting the way
Unveiling of Ekstrom work spotlights Old Colorado City Library preservation drive

       Amid balloons and cake and speeches about Westside pride, a painting by longtime Westside artist Jack Ekstrom was officially donated to the Old Colorado City Library March 6 as part of a $1.7 million building preservation fundraising drive.
       Ekstrom, along with City Councilman/ Library Campaign Committee member Jerry Heimlicher and Pikes Peak Library District Director Jose Aponte, spoke about the significance of the library, with Heimlicher terming it the “heart of the community.” With artist Jack Ekstrom standing to her left and his painting
(“Old Carnegie Library in Old Colorado City”) to her right,
Old Colorado City Branch Manager Julianne Rist talks about 
the library’s fund-raising drive March 6. Seated at the table 
in the middle foreground is Pikes PeakLibrary District 
Director Jose Aponte and (to his right) Library Campaign 
Committee member Chuck Murphy. Standing to the left of 
Ekstromis Committee President Jack Beal, and hidden 
slightly behind the balloon strings is Councilman Jerry Heimlicher.
       However, he added, the century-old building needs repairs to keep from “falling down.”
        Ekstrom's 18-by-24-inch painting, titled “Carnegie Library in Old Colorado City,” provides a summery view of the stately old structure, which was built 100 years ago with a $10,000 grant from industrialist/philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
       On hand to watch the unveiling of the painting inside the facility were 40 to 50 people, including Library District Trustee Barbara Bailey, committee members and various library staff and volunteers.
       The library provided homemade refreshments (courtesy of the Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District) and tours of the facility so attendees could see the areas needing work.
       Helping Ekstrom pull a cloth cover off the painting were Heimlicher, Aponte, committee member and long-time Westeside developer Chuck Murphy and Old Colorado City Branch Manager Julianne Rist.
        Sales of signed and numbered prints of the painting are intended to help with the ongoing fund-raising effort.
        According to Rist, $77,000 has been donated to the drive so far, plus a matching grant of $149,000 from the Colorado Historical Society.
       Recent major donations were $30,000 from the Joseph Henry Edmondson Foundation and $2,500 from LSI Logic, Heimlicher said.
       In his comments, Ekstrom, wearing a rose in his lapel, said he and his family have come to the library an average of once a week since moving to the Westside in 1974.
       “The community revolves around this building,” he said. He described the facility as “warm and accessible,” and credited the staff who work there for contributing to such a welcoming atmosphere.
       He also provided insights to the painting itself, freely admitting to using artistic license in including in the background Pikes Peak and the Templeton Building (at 25th Street and Colorado Avenue - the pre-Carnegie location of the library). Technically, these geographical features would not be visible in the northwest view of the library's exterior that he used for the painting.
       However, Ekstrom explained, “I obnoxiously put myself in the picture, standing outside the library door, and from there you can see Pikes Peak and the Templeton Building.”
       The painting depicts a fictional scene. A girl has lost a balloon, which is seen floating over the library.
        Everyone in the picture, according to Ekstrom, is an actual person, with the contemporary nature of the setting indicated by someone using a cell phone.
       In his remarks, Aponte declared himself a Westsider and “very proud” of the fact. Some places “have lost a sense of community,” he said, “but here, the Old Colorado City Library has kept that sense of tradition.”

Westside Pioneer Article