Lizzy Butts, a small mason’s trowel in hand, eased a ceramic tile into a dab of concrete.
She was oblivious to cars zooming past on East Pikes Peak Avenue downtown or the folks coming and going from the CenturyLink office building.
Lizzy, 10, was simplly enjoying a week at SCAMP — the Concrete Couch version of summer camp. Her group was transforming a large sidewalk vent into a piece of art.
And she was loving it.
“I always have a lot of fun doing this,” Lizzy told me as the mosaic “Tapestry Road” took shape atop the vent.
This wasn’t her first time working on a project with Concrete Couch, a Manitou Springs nonprofit founded by artist Steve Wood dedicated to creating a better community by working with kids and others to create public art.
SCAMP is a perfect example of what Wood and Concrete Couch are about.
SCAMP stands for Summer Community Art and Mural Project. Over the next three months SCAMPers like Lizzy will create a series of public art projects in the downtown area — benches, murals and a circus-style performance.
Already, the group built a concrete, ceramic and stone bench on Nevada Avenue in front of City Rock Climbing Gym. The CenturyLink bench is its second project. Six more are planned through August.
Best of all, it’s free to participate and all are welcome. The crew Thursday included kids like Lizzy, teens and adults.
The city asked Wood to host SCAMP and is helping him secure permits and providing free parking at project sites. But it is giving no financial support.
The Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore is contributing ceramic materials and area concrete companies are giving reduced-price materials.
Still, Wood is seeking sponsorships, such as contributions he received from City Rock and CenturyLink, to cover the costs of each project, which total about $2,000 apiece.
“But we’re going ahead with this whether we get the sponsors or not,” Wood said. “That’s just how we work.”
All are welcome and sign-up is easy. Go to his website: www.ConcreteCouch.org and look under the “What’s New” tab. Or call program coordinate Lisbet Rattenborg at 347-1142.
The website also has details of coming projects including one starting June 18 in the Middle Shooks Run Neighborhood where a mural will be built alongside the creek.
“Kids like it because you get to work with tools,” said Jennifer Hanson, a professional potter who also teaches at Concrete Couch. “They get to use tile cutters and nippers, tile saws, do mortar and grouting. We even fire up the kiln sometimes and do glazing.”
Lizzy nodded agreement.
“I’ve been cutting tile,” she said. “But I’m not so good with the nippers.”
Click here to read a Side Streets column I wrote April 27, 2011, about Wood and Concrete Couch.
To read the associated blog entry, follow this link.
Click this link to see another cool Concrete Couch project.