Portfolio

Easement

Documenting the Park Hill Golf Easement
before redevelopment, where I’m also
exploring the intersection of urban
and natural spaces.

Easement, Enrique #2, Oil on Paper, 8"x10" 2023

Easement

The title of this series comes from a legal arrangement between the city of Denver and the Clayton Foundation, where while the Foundation owns a 155-acre plot of land on North Colorado Blvd, the city is allowed to define and govern its use. Specifically, it must remain an “open space in general and a golf course in particular.

Other than occasionally driving past this abandoned plot of land, I really wasn’t aware of what it was and its complex legal history until Referred Question 20 popped up on my ballot this past summer. This was the second time it appeared on a ballot measure, but I only vaguely remember the first and may have likely mistaken it for another Golf Course that was up for redevelopment.

This time, though, I lived near the space and would have benefited from the proposed development, specifically a nearby grocery store. The debates on how to vote, to allow development, or to keep the space open, were frequent and I was on the fence for some time, that is, until our Nanny mentioned how they used to live in the neighborhood and that the largely working-class residents used the space for recreation. This reminded me of the often dire need working-class neighborhoods have for parks, and I voted to keep the space undeveloped. Plus, I don’t trust developers whatsoever, they’ve had carte blanche in Denver for far too long.

So I decided to use the space to help advocate for it to stay green, document it before it possibly disappears/changes, and encourage others to join me. So I packed up my French Easel and started exploring the space.

An artist who joined me once said of the space, “This is the most beautiful ugly space I’ve ever seen.” As it has been disused since 2018 weeds and unmowed grass have taken over, at one point growing to at least six feet. But though it was mostly weeds the space was really very beautiful; full of a variety of greens, ochres, mauves, and browns, with trees breaking through to create wonderful shapes that cut into the blue Colorado sky. But what I really found interesting was the houses, ugly condos, warehouses, and Walgreens in the background. I wanted the compositions to remain mostly green, eschewing the expected horizon sitting on the lower horizontal third. But I let the urban details peek through, loosely but carefully painted, speaking to how urban encroachment is ever-present. And if you’ve read my artist statement, you know how I love contradiction and contrast, and the intersection of the natural and urban is super interesting.

This fact and the space history became the focus of the project, this intersection, and how urban spaces encroach and frequently take over any “unused” space.

If you want a deeper dive into the history of the Park Hill Easement, and how my project has had to evolve with the now fenced-in space, read my post here.