By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – An artist invited to create a mural at a new hotel in the RiNo neighborhood completed the project Sunday with hopes the permanent installation will catch the attention of people passing by. He said he’d like it to start a conversation about an important issue he addresses in his work.

“The subject of my show is basically violence,” said Cleon Peterson. “Even though we’re involved in wars, it’s something that is far away from us.”

cleon peterson 1 Artist Hopes New Denver Mural Will Start Conversation About Violence

(credit: CBS)

The Los Angeles-based artist has an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver through May.

cleon peterson 4 Artist Hopes New Denver Mural Will Start Conversation About Violence

MCA Denver (credit: CBS)

Just weeks later, people will see his latest work span 780 square feet inside The Source Hotel on Brighton Boulevard when it opens in late spring. He chose the topic of violence about 10 years ago as he saw the United States enter into wars abroad.

cleon peterson 2 Artist Hopes New Denver Mural Will Start Conversation About Violence

(credit: CBS)

“There’s an apathy toward even understanding that we’re involved,” he said. “I think it’s important for everybody to kind of internalize it and ask themselves what role they play.”

Peterson says he is thrilled to see his latest mural, still untitled, moving into a part of Denver with so much attention and energy around it.

“There’s a vitality to the city and growth that’s happening in the city and an embracing of young culture,” he said. “I think it’s a good way to get people excited about the environment they live in.”

cleon peterson 3 Artist Hopes New Denver Mural Will Start Conversation About Violence

(credit: CBS)

Using spaces like part of this hotel is a canvas Peterson enjoys with his work. He likes the idea of catching someone’s attention quickly in an unconventional location. Peterson says he tries to go more in-depth on subjects on smaller canvases when his work is on display in a museum.

“I like how it confronts people that aren’t going to traditional art spaces,” he said. “You can’t do something that’s small because you have the context of the city to contend with.”

His exhibition at MCA Denver ends on May 27. The Source Hotel is scheduled to finish construction at the end of June. The images are large enough to draw someone in at first glance but the ideas behind the art keep someone talking about it well after discovering his work, a conversation he says is part of the job.

“I see it as my role, I feel a responsibility to do that,” he said. “All of us have the power to make change, whether it’s on a grand scale or whether it’s in our own personal lives.”

LINK: MCA Denver

Shawn Chitnis reports for CBS4 News at 10 on weekends and CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. throughout the week. Email him story ideas at and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.


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