Denver Hilltoppers’ swim team coach found opportunity and positivity during the Covid shutdown. When pools closed, Austin Zucchini-Fowler found himself with more time to devote to his passion— painting murals of gratitude around the city. You may have seen the brightly colored, spray-painted, dot-style murals of frontline workers such as nurses, doctors, police officers, firefighters, teachers, chefs, sanitation and construction workers around town. As a result, we decided to share his feel-good creations.
What are your murals about?
“Within two weeks of the shutdown, I did my first Gratitude Mural titled ‘Healthcare Hero’ of a nurse. My murals are very specific to the time. During the pandemic, there was so much negative news. I am more of a positive guy. It was my way of trying to share some positive aspects and celebrate individuals stepping up during that time. I want to be inclusive and make sure everyone feels represented and loved.”
What’s it like making your art in public?
“With painting murals, there is no privacy. I think it’s fun because I can be an introvert, but when I work publicly, it invites the community to be a part of the process. During the pandemic, people were feeling really lonely, including myself. When I was out painting murals, I felt more a part of the community. I even felt like I was the voice of the community. They inspired me—and I responded. It was like I was working with everyone in the process.”
Where can we find your murals?
“My first mural, ‘Healthcare Hero’ can be found on a wall near East Colfax Avenue and Williams Street. At 2605 Fairfax Street, you will find my sanitation worker. Right outside the Denver Central Market is the ‘Charismatic Chef’ mural; and the vet is on 729 West 9th Avenue. Also, in RiNo, my ‘United Heroes’ is behind Bigby’s Folly and right next to my ‘Influential Idol’ of a teacher. At 1399 25th Street, you can view my ‘Frontline Fighter.’ I really encourage people to go check out the murals in person—photos do not do it justice.”
What’s on the horizon?
“I like to work in multiple mediums so I can use different tools to express myself. I am still painting and creating murals but I am also working more in the digital space. I recently created a collection of bears on display at Number 38 in RiNo. It is a fun series of work that was inspired by the NFT space currently. All the bears are similar to one another but have a special attribute. The goal is for everyone to relate to one of the bears. Front line workers really enjoyed having art they related to—I figured, why not make art that everyone can relate to? People can buy their prints at Number 38 or my website. I have also made them into murals.”