Over the past few weeks, the artists behind the creative agency Zada put up several murals around town supporting front-line workers.
Karlee Mariel, an abstract artist whose spent two decades painting street art, had recently returned home to Centennial after spending time on the East Coast studying art and establishing herself in the New Jersey and New York scenes. Armina Jusufagic just left San Francisco for Denver, where she is getting her start as a street artist.
The two women met, started their agency, and began creating murals that celebrate Denver’s diversity, encouraging people to find joy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their latest mural, at Colfax Avenue and Franklin Street, is an image of two women wearing masks and kissing, located just a few steps from Blush and Blue.
In recent weeks, they’ve painted two cats also wearing M-95 face masks, as well as a depiction of a frontline worker wearing a Wonder Woman face mask.
“We received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. From people honking and waving on the street as we were painting, to community members reaching out over Facebook or the [Zada] website.” Armina told OUT FRONT. “We started the project to give back to the community. We know everyone is bored inside their houses, so it was nice to see people respond in such a positive way.”
Their next project, which they’re currently scouting a location for, will feature two men kissing, wearing similar masks. Although the response has been mostly positive, it’s not entirely without haters. On Monday, May 18, as the two artists were finishing up for the day, a passer-by chucked a Big-Gulp at them, soaking the wall and some of their equipment.
“It happened and was over so fast, we had to take a moment to think about what had happened,” Armina told us. “I had lesbians on social media tell me that they’re a black belt and would come to the next mural painting as muscle.”
Despite the sticky incident, the artists at Zada plan to continue putting up murals that highlight both Denver’s LGBTQ community and frontline workers of the COVID-19 pandemic.