The Community Mural at Rise Coffee House
This was a really special project to be a part of.
The first time José and I headed to Rise Coffee House, it was a bright Sunday in high summer. Per COVID safety, the inside was closed but the backyard had well-distanced seating. The space is really quite beautiful. A homely backyard, bright and cheerful with a stone pathway, trees, and seasonal flowers. As we sat in our loungers and sipped our coffee, we were both drawn immediately to the cinderblock wall enclosing the space.
“Oooooooooh babe,” I remember saying, “What a wall this would be for a mural!”
There’s a fun side-effect to being mural artists. Every wall becomes a canvas, and they jump out at you at every turn. This wall really jumped out at us.
“Absolutely,” José replied, “Can you imagine a mountain scene, or some beautiful graphics stretching across and even wrapping around the other side?”
We fantasized a bit more about all the interesting ways the wall could be brought to life. Then we returned to our coffee and avocado toast (amazing by the way).
A week later, we were about to leave Driggs when our phones dinged with a message from Kisa, the owner and multitasker extraordinaire of Rise Coffee. “If you’re ever back in town, we’d love to do a mural!” She wrote. With the border to Canada still closed and all our plans thrown to the wind, we were in no hurry to leave the Teton Valley. I mean, who would be? The Teton Valley is a wholly unique and truly special corner of the world. And how cool is it that we had just been dreaming about painting that wall?
So a few days later we were chatting with Kisa about ideas. Rise is not just a coffee spot in Driggs. It is a place for connection and community within the Teton Valley. In keeping with this theme, we talked about making the mural a valuable art experience for students in the community. The Teton Arts Council jumped aboard to organize this opportunity for children in the area. And boom just like that, we had a community mural plan in action!
The mural went up fast, with students of all ages coming to splash color and bring the wall to life. Many volunteers from the community also came out to help. We wore masks and stayed 6 feet apart, something that wasn’t too difficult to manage given the size of the wall! It was a beautiful piece of teamwork that uplifted everyone’s spirits.
The Value of Community Murals
Experiences and spaces like this are invaluable. Americans for the Arts says it well:
Public art is a distinguishing part of our public history and our evolving culture. It reflects and reveals our society, adds meaning to our cities and uniqueness to our communities. Public art humanizes the builtAmericans for the Arts
environment and invigorates public spaces.
We are so grateful to once again have had the privilege of being part of a project like this. The Driggs community so kindly welcomed us in, even though our visit was unexpected by all parties involved! Now that the summer is gone and winter has set in, the mural’s colors must be dazzling in contrast to the white snow cover.
We hope your path passes through Driggs. When it does, may you have the opportunity to enjoy a cup of coffee underneath bright summer sunshine, with a colorful mountain scene before you, and the sound of friendly chatter all around.