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New owner promotes bison mural, art studio in Mancos

After two years of uncertainty about the fate a mural in Mancos, the building’s new owner said they are here to stay. (Alex Bond/Courtesy photo)
Owner says part of the space will be geared toward children

An artist has purchased the building in Mancos that displays a once-controversial mural of bison and is promoting it as a studio for his “big metal art” and as a learning center for children.

Alex Bond said he bought the building at 298 N. Monte St. as a full-time art studio and metalworking classes.

Bond said he had rented it as a studio for about a year before buying it. His art is displayed in Durango and other areas. His metal art consists of stone carving and woodworking.

He has worked as an artist for about five years, but created his first piece of public art when he was 15 years old and living in Manitou Springs.

“I’ve been here, and I’ve always wanted to buy the building because I think it’s a great place for not only me to make art, but it’s a great studio space for people in the county, especially kids to be able to experience art because it’s close to town and also far enough away from town that we can make noise and make dust and dirt,” Bond said. “It’s a bit of a dream come true right now for sure.”

The new studio will host demonstrations on blacksmithing, wood turning and stone carving, as well as some metalworking and welding classes.

Alex Bond said the mural has become a town staple in Mancos. (Alex Bond/Courtesy Photo)
Some of Alex Bond’s artwork is displayed outside the studio. (Alex Bond/Courtesy photo)

“I hosted some metalworking and welding classes for kids last summer, and we’ll continue to do them this summer,” Bond said. “I’m also wanting to open up studio space to rent short-term on the property for people who might be struggling to find a creative space to have as a creative outlet.”

Last summer, local organizations such as Mancos Summer Hub, a branch of Mancos United, and Mancos Valley Resources partnered with or sponsored classes offered by Bond.

Interested parties may call Bond at (970) 403-2947 or sign up with Mancos Summer Hub.

Bond said he hopes that people who attend the classes or workshops leave with a deeper appreciation of art and of who they are as a person.

“I hope they experience some sort of transformation,” Bond said. “I think what I love about art and being an artist is that everybody knows that we as people transform the material, the stone and the metal, but I think that is less obvious to people is that it is also transformative for people. It brings people closer, and the process of making art doesn’t just produce something that people can hold, but it produces a stronger community and a better individual.”

“In addition to making something that somebody feels proud of, my real hope is that by experiencing the creative process, people can learn more about who they are to transform and grow,” he said.

Bond also addressed the bison mural, saying that he and the artist of the mural, Chip Thomas, who is a physician on the Navajo Nation, plan to add to and showcase the mural’s journey over the past few years. Bond added that the previous owner had tried to remove the mural, causing some damage to the art.

“I’m really excited that the mural is definitely going to stay,” Bond said. “The guy that made the mural was here about a week ago, and we looked at it together, and I’m currently talking to him about refurbishing the bison. We’re definitely going to keep them here for the town to enjoy.”

“And what Chip and I think would be really cool is to have an artist come and paint a theme punk crazy prosthetic leg on the buffalo. That way the old story of the buffalo trying to be erased and then staying and surviving is told rather than just erasing it and trying to pretend that it never happened because it did happen,” Bond said. “He tried to get the mural off and now it’s here to stay by some crazy turn of events.”

The mural was commissioned in 2022 by the Mancos Creative District, but once the mural was finished, Jury Krajack, the owner at the time, said he didn’t approve the design and wanted it removed, leading to a two-year debate on the fate of the controversial mural.

Despite the controversy and uncertainty regarding the mural’s fate, it has become a beloved popular spot in the town, with many locals and tourists taking photos of the mural as they drive through town.

Now, the guessing is over. Bond says the mural is here to stay.