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Mural project will honor Denver’s historic Chinatown


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    DENVER (KCNC) — For the first time, the city of Denver is getting a mural dedicated to its once-bustling historic Chinatown.

Monday, Oct. 31, is the 2nd anniversary of Denver’s Chinatown Commemoration Day, and along with that celebration the Colorado Asian Pacific United group is announcing its new mural project, which will honor the history of the Chinese community. CBS News Colorado got an exclusive look at the project and spoke to the artist whose mural was selected.

Hmong-American artist Nalye Lor drew up the mural and said she herself didn’t know about the extensive history that once existed.

“I incorporated an endless noodle that just shows the history. I wanted to use a lot of colors to really depict the crazy chaos of history, but also show how they can work so well together to create something new and beautiful,” Lor said. “My whole life I’ve kind of felt invisible. This is huge. It’s a big step for not only the Chinese community, but the Asian American Pacific Islander community as a whole, but also for Hmong people.”

CAPU worked on this project with the city of Denver and they were about to get funding for the project because they received a Mellon Foundation grant. The mural will be on the side of Denver Fire Station 4 at 1890 Lawrence St. The mural depicts the past, present and future of the Chinese community. It memorializes not only the 1880 anti-Chinese race riot, but it’s also a tribute to the contributions the community continues to make today.

“There’s really no evidence that a Chinatown used to exist in lower downtown and this is a way for us to sort of physically and metaphorically reclaim the space and show people, yes, there was a Chinatown and yes, it was vibrant,” said Joie Ha, with Colorado Asian Pacific United vice president. “There are so many Asian American and pacific islander histories in Colorado that not a lot of people know about and it’s just so important that we know these things and celebrate it because our state was built by a lot of people of color.”

A piece of art that Ha and Lor said is long overdue. A way to tell the story of Denver’s dark past and the Chinese community’s bright future.

“We really want folks to know that there was a lot of joy, and a lot of amazing brave spirits because of the Chinatown that was here,” Ha said.

Along with the mural, the group is also working on putting up three historic markers around the city and removing the one that existed. The plaque that exists near 20th and Blake has offensive and inaccurate information on it. CAPU hopes to have the mural up before the end of the year.

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