Just north of the Colorado State Capitol, a thin but recognizable image swims into view as drivers, cyclists and pedestrians approach the intersection of Sherman Street and East 18th Avenue.
It’s a young man, his legs crossed and eyes closed, sitting on a wooden swing and playing a violin, a cat by his side.
The “Memorial for Elijah McClain,” as Baltimore artist Reed Bmore called it on Instagram, was installed over Thanksgiving after Bmore was “moved to create this piece and donate (it) to the city of #Denver,” he wrote.
The piece caught the attention of Denver artists, art-lovers and others over the weekend, generating social media posts and praise.
“We need to look inward and stop bickering before this world turns itself inside out,” Bmore wrote in a post about the sculpture.
“Rest beautiful soul,” wrote Denver author Kali Fajardo-Anstine on Twitter, noting that the sculpture “moved (her) to tears.”
Moved to tears by this piece by Reed Bmore. Elijah McClain above Denver with his violin and kitty. Rest beautiful soul. pic.twitter.com/S5Xrqba5zM
— Kali Fajardo-Anstine (@KaliMaFaja) November 29, 2020
McClain, who loved animals, was the 23-year-old violinist and massage therapist who died days after he was restrained by Aurora police with a chokehold that has since been banned. His violent, tragic death became a nationwide rallying cry amid Black Lives Matter protests this year, which demanded police reforms in the wake of his death on Aug. 30, 2019.
Nationally renowned Denver artists such as Detour and Hiero Vega have painted murals of McClain around town, as have others. Bmore’s piece, putting McClain’s image out of reach and above the mundane traffic of daily life, prompted Detour to proclaim, “Tooooo beautiful!” on Twitter this weekend.
Other works on Bmore’s Instagram page depict playful animals, “The Simpsons” character Bumble Bee Man, and the Mad Hatter from “Alice in Wonderland.”
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