Rouse likes having fun with his art

       Westside artist Douglas Rouse has won awards for his sidewalk chalk drawings, with a major feature being his ability to give them a three-dimensional look and feel.

Douglas Rouse with his Territory Days painting for this issue of the Westside Pioneer.
Westside Pioneer photo

       So when the Westside Pioneer asked him if he could come up with some kind of of “trick of the eye” for the paper's annual tradition of an original Territory Days cover art piece, he said he'd see what he could do.
       The result, seen on Page 1, combines elements of two 19th century town photos and his prize-winning 2006 Denver chalk competition entry in which a tyrannosaurus rex seemed to be bursting through the pavement. For the new painting, Rouse used acrylics to conjure a Colorado City scene (complete with Garvin Cabin) in which a few of the pioneers are “chalk drawing” on a dirt street when the dinosaur makes his surprise appearance (this time on a dirt street).
       The scene is not completely fanciful. Rouse noted with a straight face that chalk art existed in that era, at least in Europe.
       “I wanted something with a nostalgic, vintage feel,” summed up the 43-year-old Air Academy High School grad, who has lived and worked in his “Rouse 66” house on West Colorado Avenue for nearly a decade. “Territory Days reminds me of the 1800s. I just thought, wouldn't it be cute if there was chalk-drawing here then and this happened.”
       Making art fun has always been important to Rouse, going back to his earliest art experiences as a boy, first drawing tanks and military men and later band logos in his school notebooks. His goal upon leaving high school - where he was encouraged by art teacher Pat Green - was to design CD covers for bands.
       That script didn't quite get followed, although he did wind up in Hamburg, Germany, for nine years, with employment that included making covers for “music library” CDs (sometimes used by bands needing background material) and painting large sets for music videos. The latter work is “where my interest in large-scale painting got started,” he said.
       In that vein, an ambitious new project is to direct a group of area artists in creating 12 “mind-blowing” murals, as he put it, in prominent locations around the city as “a way to put Colorado Springs on the map as a place for visual arts.” The project, which has received two grants so far to cover part of the expense, will allow work to start in the near future on the first wall - outside the Warehouse Restaurant building at 25 W. Cimarron St. Eventually, “we want to target all the entrances to the downtown,” Rouse said.
       This week's Pioneer cover is not the first time Rouse has introduced dinosaurs to the Westside. Anyone visiting the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center will see the seven wall and ceiling murals he painted, which include depictions of primordial creatures that once roamed this part of the world.
       NOTE: The original of Rouse's Territory Days painting will be on display (and for sale) at Out of the Box, 2606 W. Colorado Ave., for one week starting Friday, May 28.

Westside Pioneer article