Victoria on December 17th, 2008

Indian Memories, sixteen murals by Allen Tupper True, one of Colorado’s most important painters, are in danger because the building in which they reside at 918 17th Street and Champa in Denver, is currently up for sale. The building itself is designated as part of a Denver Landmark historic district, but this does not protect the murals. I hope that you will join the campaign to save Indian Memories, considered by many to be Allen True’s finest murals. [See two of these murals in the Gallery section.]

True painted Indian Memories between 1921 and 1925 for the Colorado National Bank. The artist was given complete freedom to select and treat the subject matter. True choose Native Americans; their memories of former times before immigrants came to America, their pastoral life of hunting, war, handicrafts, and recreation, as well as their spiritual life. True’s depiction of Native Americans in all his work was based on years of study, scholarly research and experience living among them.

The Indian Memories murals have been praised by the public, art scholars and writers.

Peter H. Hassrick, Director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum, states “this is the finest depiction of Native people by an Anglo-American artist to be found in any public building in the state of Colorado and very possibly in the whole Rocky Mountain West. Thematically, aesthetically and technically they are veritable masterworks of the muralist trade and American art treasures to be cherished and preserved at all cost.”

Jack Henry Kunin, art historian and appraiser, who examined the murals both close up on a ladder and at floor level, believes them to be “a national treasure. On account of their ambitious scale, grandiose architectural setting, and artistic magnificence, Indian Memories is surely the artist’s masterpiece. True was not only the major artist in Denver during the years between the world wars, with murals in innumerable locations public and private, he decorated three state capitols: Wyoming, Missouri, and Colorado.”

James Barrett, who has been investigating the life and works of True for the last several years and has conducted walking tours of True’s public murals, declares “The murals in the old Colorado National Bank are some of True’s finest achievements in his life long effort to make art accessible to the citizenry. Ironically, he blends his love and respect for the Native American history and traditions, and his deft painting skills within Fisher and Fisher’s stunning classical architecture for a modern financial institution: The rendering of the old works wonderfully within the new.”

Advocacy efforts need to begin immediately to save and preserve the irreplaceable Indian Memories murals that are an important part of Denver and Colorado’s artistic legacy. Allen True’s art works will become even better known and appreciated when three exhibitions open in October 2009 at the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado Historical Society and the Main Public Library and an hour-long television program produced by Colorado Public Television-KBDI-12 PBS will begin airing. However, time is of the essence to save Indian Memories. These murals may be gone by October 2009 without your help.

Please adapt this letter as you wish, sign and send it to the following contacts –and any other people you think might join this campaign to save Allen True’s Indian Memories:

[Click on email addresses to activate link.]

Erin Trapp, Director,
Denver Office of Cultural Affairs
201 W Colfax Ave # 7
Denver, CO 80202

Jan Brennan, Deputy Director
Denver Office of Cultural Affairs
201 W Colfax Ave # 7
Denver, CO 80202

The Hon. John W. Hickenlooper
Office of Mayor
1437 Bannock St # 350
Denver, CO 80202

Letters to the Editor
The Denver Post
101 W. Colfax Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80202-5177
– Toll-free: (800) 336-7678
(Letters to the editor – to be considered, letters must include full name, home town and daytime phone number)

Denver Landmark Preservation Members:
c/o Denver Office of Cultural Affairs
201 W Colfax Ave # 7
Denver, CO 80202
Alice Jennison
Barbara Gibson, Colorado Historical Society
Dennis Humphries, American Institute of Architect
Edward Shalkey, American Society of Landscape Architects
James Bershof, American Institute of Architects
Ronald Roybal, At-Large Member
Chris Meza, At-Large Member
Carla McConnell, Colorado Historical Society
Stephen Leonard, Planning Board

Within the past couple of years, four murals by True have been removed from their sites and at least two of these are badly damaged. Three panels depicting the gentle pastoral life of American Indian women in the Nurses’ Library at Children’s Hospital, Tammen Hall, 2335 Stout Street, Denver, Colorado, were recently removed. Word is that a doctor bought two and the third was damaged when ripped off the wall and its whereabouts is unknown. True’s delightful mural of jungle animals, titled The Water Hole, was removed this year from the Jonas Brothers Furriers building at 1023 Broadway in Denver and put into storage where, it is reported, the mural is torn and covered in bird droppings.


Victoria Tupper Kirby

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