LARAMIE, Wyo. — With each day, an aspen grove in the alley between the Whole Earth Grainery and the Chocolate Cellar on Ivinson grows more colorful.
Local artist Meghan Meier is gradually transforming the east and north walls of the grainery into a landscape.
Her mural, "The Grainery Grove," is the second mural from the Laramie downtown mural project, which plans to create five murals downtown.
The project is a partnership between Laramie Main Street and the University of Wyoming Art Museum and seeks to highlight unique downtown architecture with art and boost downtown vibrancy.
The project pairs local artists with business and building owners to discuss concepts and ideas that the artists work from, but allows the artists the freedom to pursue in their murals the subjects that inspire them, Trey Sherwood, Laramie Main Street executive director, said.
"One of my favorite things about living in Laramie is how easy it is to get to the mountains. And there has always been something special about finding yourself suddenly in an aspen grove," Meier said in a statement from the University of Wyoming. "So I thought I could contribute something along those lines to downtown; people could stumble into an aspen grove and appreciate how lucky we are in where we live and the resources we have."
Meier, a Laramie native, said she has always been interested in art. After high school, she studied art in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Meier learned to tattoo in Detroit in 2005, and shortly after that, she opened Rolling Tattoo in Laramie.
She painted a wall in her tattoo shop, but the downtown project is the first time she has been commissioned to paint a mural.
"This is a learning experience in the amount of planning and budgeting (of both time and money) that it takes to paint a large space, as well as a lesson in patience because I work full time and don't always have time to come downtown and paint even though I would like to," she said.
"This mural has been both challenging and rewarding because it's all up to me.
"With tattooing, there is always the foundation of what the client wants — what style, colors and theme. Vince, the owner of the Whole Earth Grainery, dang near gave me free rein with the mural, which has been very freeing and frustrating all at once. If I am second-guessing myself, I have no client to tell me they hate the blue. But it's also been fun to paint in a style that is very un-tattoo-like, and experiment with such a large scale."
Meier appreciates all mediums of art but currently she is most intrigued by how geometric blocks of color and hard lines can give the impression of natural or organic forms, she said in her biography for the project.
The project costs about $25,000 and is funded through a grant from the Wyoming Arts Council, the Guthrie Family Foundation, the city of Laramie and the Laramie Beautification Committee, Susan Moldenhauer, UW Art Museum director and chief curator, said.
The majority of Laramie Main Street's money comes from private donations, Sherwood said.
The Wyoming Arts Council, which sponsored about 35 percent of the project, is partially supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Moldenhauer said.
Information from: Laramie Daily Boomerang - Laramie, http://www.laramieboomerang.com