In the spring, we packed up and moved our offices to Denver’s Arts District on Santa Fe. As arts funders, we wanted to be more accessible to the arts community – and by doing that, we wanted another way to connect with our grant partners by inviting them to create installations within our office space. We are pleased to announce the first piece is officially installed by talented artists from our neighbors at Access Gallery, and it comes with an important message.
In 2012, Access Gallery was preparing for a show about Picasso – which happened to be the same time the United States Senates failed to ratify the UN treaty for the rights of people with disabilities. The non-binding treaty was based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Teaching artist for Access Gallery, Javier Flores, expressed frustration with the treaty and drew a sketch for a mural – which turned into a 14’ raw canvas with more than 30 artists helping to bring the piece to life.
The image features several people with disabilities including Bob Dole, former Senator from Kansas, who was trying to talk to his peers into ratifying the treaty but failed.
“This was our first ‘political’ painting as an organization and helped lead us to move away from our usual/standard educational arts organization to one that amplified the voices of the people we partner with,” writes Amy Siegel from Access Gallery. “We embraced the social justice issues facing people with disabilities.”
Amy continued to write, “Even now, 30 years after the passing of the ADA, people with disabilities are too often left out of the very conversations that impact them the most.”
In 2018, Access Gallery revisited the image as a full mural on the Cherry Creek bike path (near 9th and Cherokee).
Fast-forward to 2020 and the piece is recreated at our new offices.
“2020, as it seems, has been a year full of learning and reflecting on our mission and values as a nonprofit organization,” says Gary Steuer, President & CEO of Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. “Together, we are getting through a world health crisis and standing beside our community through the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, we are delighted to have a piece that highlights the struggle people with disabilities face daily, and we continue to learn how we can all do better and be better humans for each other.”
The Access Gallery piece Guernica captures much of their creative belief, “that people with disabilities need to be seen, need to be heard, and need to be at the tables where decisions about them are made. The braille in this piece states – ‘Nothing about us without us’ a familiar refrain to anyone working in the disability community,’ finished Amy as she describes what the piece means to Access Gallery.
But there’s more – in celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Denver eatery Pizzeria Locale had the artwork on pizza boxes throughout the month of July.