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The Pueblo Levee

In 1978 a group of University of Southern Colorado art students headed out in the cover of night, set up lookouts, and lowered themselves over the wall of the Pueblo Levee. Outfitted with makeshift rope-suspension devices and armed with buckets of paint, the students spent the wee hours crafting a large blue cod on the levee's concrete wall, watching for police as they mixed up their acrylics. Overnight, the waterway—which directs the Arkansas River through the center of town—became home to a public art project that would eventually capture the imagination of the Pueblo community, as well as the attention of the art world and the Guinness Book of World Records. Pueblo Levee is a fantastic, colorful vision field that sprawls over 175,000 square feet, stretches for 3½ miles, and is recognized as the largest mural in the world.

Organizers estimate that more than 1,000 painters have contributed to the mural—everyone from self-taught father-and-son teams who come to paint on weekends to the members of fire precincts, to classically trained muralists and art students from New York and Chicago. From time to time, a teacher and students at the Schools for Arts and Sciences will refresh some of the older murals. Witty graffiti, comic illustrations, narrative scenes, and cartoons line the levee, which is visible to passengers zooming along I–25. Today, you can take the walking or biking path along the levee to look at the murals, or even take a kayak lesson below it.

Updated: 2014-01-16

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