Artist Lindee Zimmer paints a mural on the garage door of a home on 21st Street on Wednesday in Boulder. The mural incorporates elements that reference
Artist Lindee Zimmer paints a mural on the garage door of a home on 21st Street on Wednesday in Boulder. The mural incorporates elements that reference homeowner Alexa Allen, her daughters and Allen's work as a leather artist. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

The last time Lindee Zimmer painted a mural in her hometown was 2004.

She's been working as an artist for most of the intervening years, her work appearing on buildings in Mexico, Thailand, New Orleans, Austin, L.A., Fort Collins and Denver, where she lives now. But her most recent project will be her first in Boulder since graduating high school.

"I'm really excited to be painting a mural in my hometown," Zimmer said. "I hope it's one of many."

Zimmer's recent work is, in fact, one of nine: Nine pieces that will be splashed on garage doors, fences, even sides of houses, as part of the city's Creative Neighborhoods program. Using city funds — about $2,500 per year from the recently extended Community Culture and Safety Tax — area artists were commissioned to paint private property offered up by homeowners throughout Boulder. Although the art is on private property, all nine pieces must be accessible from the public-right-of-way.

"We've never figured out how to get creative experiences in residential neighborhoods, (because) we typically only get funding for the core of downtown," said Mandy Vink, public art administrator in Boulder's office of arts and culture.

Neighborhood murals are "an easy but impactful way to start," added Mary Wohl Haan, artist program coordinator.

The first two works will be completed before the end of the month, with the rest to follow. (A stipulation of the grants is that pieces have to be completed by the end of the year.) Zimmer is first off the mark with her concept for homeowner and fellow artist Alexa Allen, who creates leather pieces and apparel.


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"It would be really great to have art in the neighborhood," Allen said. "If I could, I'd have her paint the whole inside of my house."

She and Zimmer worked together on a mural design that incorporates Allen and her two daughters as well as some symbols that represent Allen and her work. The mural, like all those done under the Creative Neighborhoods program, must remain in place for at least five years. The cost of maintenance and upkeep — and eventual removal — is the responsibility of the homeowner.

Another round of murals is planned. Grants will be given out in 2020. In the meantime, homeowners are free to pay for art themselves; a list of city-approved muralists is available online, along with guidelines and recommendations, such as how to notify your neighbors.

Zimmer is hopeful that, once paintings start popping up on quiet streets, more people will be inspired to embrace murals where they live. Murals, she believes, are the most accessible art form because they aren't stuck in galleries.

"Bringing it out on the street and making it everybody's, it's so much more valuable to me than putting it inside on a wall without a lot of eyes on it," she said. "That art belongs to everyone."

Shay Castle: 303-473-1626, castles@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/shayshinecastle