Little Man Ice Cream unveils new mural by local Chicano artist

Little Man Ice Cream is set to unveil a new mural painted by local Chicano artist Ken Marley (Aqua One), with an event on Thursday, June 23, which will include tamales from La Casita, the Denver Fashion Truck, a performance live from Los Mocochetes and, of course, ice cream. “I hope that [the mural] arouses curiosity to learn and understand what the roots of the neighborhood really are. And to appreciate the beauty of the ancient architecture, old churches and beautiful surrounding buildings,” says Basha Cohen, Marketing Director of Little Man.

Neighbors are encouraged to celebrate their “Northside pride” by cruising with their lowriders to enjoy a fun night that showcases Denver’s Chicano roots. Marley will also talk about where he found inspiration for the mural.

“My style and approach to this specific mural is expressive Chicano art,” says Marley. “My shapes were originally inspired by the Aztec calendar and the symbols turned into my own unique typography. I started including these shapes and symbols in representative images, such as the sky, the church, and the car. Even my brush strokes, colors and shapes have very expressive characteristics, the goal was to combine all of these concepts into one very visually compelling piece.

The mural, titled “Sunset Over the Northside,” depicts St. Patrick’s Mission Church facing east during a beautiful Colorado sunset as vintage lowriders cruise through the neighborhood. Marley says he has always admired St. Patrick’s Mission Church in the Lower Highland. The church was built in 1907 with Mission Revival architecture and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Taking inspiration from his neighborhood growing up, Marley knew that the church at 3325 Pecos Street, where his friends and family got married. and held funerals for loved ones, was to be part of the mural.

Marley grew up in North Denver and began her artistic journey young. “My artistic career began when I was just a teenager, visiting railroad yards and abandoned warehouses, [where] I saw letters, characters and styles of graffiti art. It made a big impression on me and I decided that was what I wanted to do,” says Marley. He became the first person in his family to attend college and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Metropolitan State University.

But he didn’t start painting murals right away. Marley started her own business and a family, and took a break from painting. “After ten years, I had this void in my soul. I [wasn’t] doing what I love to do, so all that money and success was really not good,” says Marley. He returned to MSU and took a semester in advanced painting. “My style has evolved,” he says. “My graffiti art, my typography, my Chicano Mexican symbols and elements coalesced into a cohesive painting.” Thus began a journey as a muralist for Marley, who was even asked to fly to New York to paint a mural on the side of a Chipotle outpost in Manhattan.

It’s no surprise that Little Man Ice Cream asked him to paint a mural on the side of his building given his impressive reputation in the art scene. The collaboration began when Marley told his son Kenny, general manager of the ice cream shop, that he was interested in painting a mural at the Colfax location of Little Man Ice Cream. The store chose a different muralist for its Colfax location, but asked Marley to paint a mural for the Northside location.

“Our patio has always intended as a community hub for the neighborhood, and now we have a beautiful piece of art to reflect those aspirations,” says Kenny Marley. “I am thrilled to see my dad’s artwork displayed and shared with the rest of Denver. It will certainly resonate with any local that passes by.”

“This piece was truly the most important and meaningful piece of my career. I put my heart and soul into it,” adds the artist. “With this mural, I wanted to bless the neighborhood in which I live. grew up with real art that was important and relevant.”

Little Man Ice Cream Mural Celebration, 2620 16th Street, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday June 23.

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