Westside artist using wee hours to add color to Garden of Gods Visitor Center
Things have been looking different most every morning in recent weeks when employees arrive to open up the Garden of the
Gods Visitor Center.
That's because Douglas Rouse has been there all night painting.
Working basically from dusk to dawn through February and March, the Westside muralist is adding large, thematic art to the walls and ceilings in seven locations inside the two-story center across from the Garden of the Gods at 30th Street and Gateway Road.
The funny thing is, Rouse never used to pay much attention to the Garden. Other than enjoying an occasional drive past the natural wonderland, “I basically ignored it,” he said.
How things have changed. Now he goes to the park to “scout around” for ideas, commented Rouse, a former Air Academy grad who spent nearly a decade in Europe before starting his Rouse 66 art studio on Colorado Avenue about three years ago.
He's also finding out about the Garden's inspirational powers. “After working all night, I get tired,” Rouse said. “But when the sun comes up and I see the light on the Garden rocks (through the windows of the Visitor Center), I start to get going again.”
The initial goal of Visitor Center management was to liven up the walkway to the theater, but after center staff met with Rouse they decided to add other locations in the building. And, they continue to be impressed.
“He's been just amazing,” said Bonnie Frum, director of operations for the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center. “I can't believe what he can do working all night.”
She's also enthusiastic about an art event June 25 that Rouse is organizing as a fund raiser for the Garden of the Gods Foundation. More than 30 artists are expected to show their work in front of the Visitor Center that day, with 50 percent of the sales going to the Foundation.
Subtlety is a key aspect of Rouse's work. Previous visitors may not even consciously notice such touches as the mountain backdrops that Rouse added behind the existing dinosaur exhibit in the theater walkway, or the way he blended the sky into the first-floor ceiling cove from a 1995 wall mural by artists - Jan and Debra Vriesen of the Denver Museum of Science and History.
Other Rouse locations are the theater exit, the cafeteria, the upstairs ceiling cove, the upstairs restroom entrances and the upstairs gift shop. The restroom entrances contain a bit of humor. A composite of a man's and woman's historic form and face point the way to the respective restrooms.
He said he did not have to present extremely detailed plans to the center management. “I didn't have any guidelines,” he remarked. “They basically told me, 'We need something. There are a lot of blank walls, and nobody is walking down the theater entry hall.'”
He described the center administrators and volunteers as “a good group of people. They've been very supportive, giving me the freedom to think up the ideas I want.”
He uses a computer to help organize an area's colors, shapes and spacing, but the final decisions are made on the wall itself, Rouse said. He uses a roller to lay out the main colors, following up as needed with an air brush or spray and finer brushes to bring out the detail.
“The biggest challenge has been getting it done after hours,” Rouse said. “They'd let me work in the day, but I need my tarps and loud music.”
Westside Pioneer article