As drivers zoom through Colorado on 1-70, a colorful new mural on a large grain bin outside Limon tells potential visitors the story of agriculturalists who live just off the interstate.
Staci Beauford grew up on a farm in Colorado not far from the site of the painting she recently completed near Limon. Although she now calls Arkansas home, with the help of her sister, a cousin, and a friend, Beauford brought a massive scene depicting a man and a little girl filled with a rural Colorado landscape to life.
Beauford’s artistic talents were first noticed after she painted on her parent’s propane tank several years ago. The propane company appreciated her abilities so much they asked her to paint on their large storage tanks. A few years later, the city of Limon was looking for new ways to tell its story and attract visitors.
“Limon is about 100 miles out from Denver and the interstate goes right by, but most people go right on by to get to Rocky Mountains,” Beauford explains. “They wanted to get some art in the area and they approached me about it.”
The Limon painting, called Heart of Harvest, is about six times larger than anything Beauford has painted before. The team was surprised, but with help from local businesses the larger than life artwork took just one week to complete.
Before the ladies broke out paint or paintbrushes, they carefully prepared the surface of the grain bin. They power washed, cleaned, and scraped the galvanized metal.
Next, an outdoor movie company from Denver helped the women project the 60-foot-tall silhouette on the side of the grain bin. “We laugh a little bit, but we just took Sharpies and outlined that image that night,” Beauford says. “We had some glow sticks, so we could give hand signals, and they could move the bucket truck after it was dark. It sounds crazy, but we had fun with it.”
Without missing a beat, the next morning, the team started applying primer. A local hardware store helped them find the right primer for the galvanized metal of the grain bin. The grain bin owner lent the ladies a bucket truck for the week.
When local people started seeing the white silhouette of primer, they got excited. It started getting attention on social media, too. Some people thought the project was done, but the magic of Beauford’s talents were just starting.
From the arm of the bucket truck, Beauford and her team started adding details of a night sky, mountainous sunset scene, and combine harvesting wheat from top to bottom of the silhouette.
While the city of Limon was primarily interested in motivating people to pull off the interstate for a visit, Beauford says she and her sister were also inspired by their roots when they sat down to design the mural.
“We wanted to say, ‘hey, you know there’s people out here and we have a story.’ That was a big part of the goal. But then my sister and I, as we were going through the design process, we really felt a strong desire to represent a wheat farmer. It is such a big part of our life,” Beauford explains.
She continues, “We do have the Rocky Mountains and we are about 100 miles out from Pike’s Peak, and my entire childhood, where ever we were farming, it’s very flat and you could always see Pike’s Peak off in the distance on the horizon. And usually, as you’re coming in on the interstate, Limon is one of the first places you get a glimpse of the Rocky Mountains, so it was definitely very important for us to get the Rocky Mountains in there.”
Behind the carefully painted mountains, a colorful sunset unfolds. “Out here in the eastern Plains we have beautiful, beautiful night skies. It is very, very clear, so we put some constellations up in the little girl’s hair where it turns to night sky. It was very fun for us to put in those little details. They probably mean more to us locals than anyone else.”
After people started reacting to her work, Beauford started a Facebook page, Some Girls and a Mural. Although they are uncertain what the future holds, the ladies aren’t ruling out the possibility of more painting projects.
Beauford adds, “Our family keeps saying, you never know, this might be bigger than what you expected.”