The Power of Unity
The Kensington Park neighborhood has a fascinating history, its inhabitants are composed of a large faction of decedents of northern New Mexico Latino and Native American families that migrated to this area in mass many decades ago.. The Longmont Police have historically had a contentious relationship with this neighborhood that culminated in the unfortunate 1980 fatal shooting of two young men; Juan Louis Garcia and Jeffrey “Beaver” Cordova.
In 1998 the city of Longmont Art in Public Places program hired artists Susan K. Dailey and Mario Miguel Echevarria to create a public art piece for Kensington Park. The topics they wanted the artists to visually address included attempting to initiate healing by acknowledging the neighborhoods tumultuous history and honor the past while at the same time, moving forward in a positive way.
A challenging task for the artists, “The Power of Unity” seemed like a fitting title to encompass all of these concepts. Neighborhood members were invited to be involved in all phases of the piece, from design input to various aspects of the tile fabrication. Near the project’s completion, neighborhood members were also invited to imprint their hands into the wet stucco on the back of the piece. Information plaques were presented in both English and Spanish.
Professor Kent Willmann from the University of Colorado School of Education teaches a summer workshop for public school teachers on “Boulder County Latino History”. The mural tour site visits are one of the highlights of his classes. For several summers Kent has invited both artists to speak to his classes at the Kensington mural site. Often times locals passing through join in the conversation with the students. Kent made this comment after a particularly moving exchange with a local Kensington Park resident: “that was amazingly powerful and a testament to the lasting power of your work”.
In 2020 the city of Longmont Art in Public Places program hired the artists to refurbish this piece. Water damage from the sprinkler system and general wear and tear over the past 25 plus years had taken its toll. “The Power of Unity” now has a new facelift.
All of the positive feedback and conversations from the Kensington neighborhood members over the years makes this one of the more meaningful projects either artist has worked on.