By Amy Shanahan; photos courtesy of Officer Seth Morrissey
Artist Janene DiRico-Cable painted the iconic American Heroes mural that features a very large flag under Meadows Parkway. The mural is a tribute to all service-related occupations such as fire, police, military, first responders, K-9, search and rescue, park/forest rangers, and the ultimate “heroes,” the family who is home supporting them all.
Art inspires us, makes us feel a wide range of emotions, and sometimes it changes the world around us. Thanks to Officer Seth Morrissey, a nine-year veteran of the Castle Rock Police Department (CRPD), art has changed the landscape of his city, while also serving a very functional purpose.
Morrissey works in the community policing unit, which focuses on quality of life issues within the town of Castle Rock. Last summer, while serving in the bike unit of the department, Morrissey received and investigated numerous reports of graffiti along the trail systems throughout Castle Rock.
Morrissey began to brainstorm about mitigating these occurrences and was inspired by a class he attended called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. The class focused on ways to lessen crime in areas through various means, one of which struck home with Morrissey. The idea of “natural surveillance” encourages environmental design, which brings people outside into areas that they normally would not be in.
This spring, Morrissey worked with his partner Officer Kevin Torrens to implement his “Art Around the Rock” mural project, in which he enlisted local artists to paint murals on many of the bridges and tunnels along the Castle Rock trail system. According to Morrissey, “the goal is to not only cover over the graffiti, but to also increase the amount of activity in those areas and help beautify our already beautiful trail system.”
Morrissey initially reached out to local artist Janene DiRico-Cable, who had done previous work for the CRPD, and who has thus far completed three murals. DiRico-Cable related her designs to the surrounding areas and explained, “History is important to the project as well as fanciful designs.” Other local artists joined in, including CRPD Officer Renee Tremaine who designed and painted a beautiful mural on a railroad bridge along Hangman’s Gulch. Tremaine’s mural features the iconic rock of Castle Rock, along with an old steam engine.
The murals range in variety from pastoral scenes to illustrations of native animals to patriotic tributes. The paint and materials were all donated by local businesses and residents who were eager to be involved in the project. To date, seven murals have been completed, with a goal of twelve by the end of this summer. The completed murals may be viewed along the Plum Creek and Hangman’s Gulch trail systems, which are easily accessible from Meadows Parkway and downtown Castle Rock.
Morrissey is thrilled with the community feedback from the project. “We receive calls and e-mails daily from residents that want to get involved,” remarked Morrissey. “The Town of Castle Rock’s Facebook page has received so much positive feedback; it lets us know that this is the perfect project for Castle Rock. The partnerships with local businesses and the Town of Castle Rock’s Parks Department have been amazing.”
Officer Seth Morrissey (left) implemented the “Art Around the Rock” project with the help of several artists, including Janene DiRico-Cable (right). DiRico-Cable was honored to be a part of this project. “The reaction from the public has been overwhelmingly positive for the murals. Castle Rock embraces public art. It does my heart good to know I can lend my talents to better the entire community. Leaving my mark, in a positive way, on my town is a privilege. Castle Rock is where I live, where I work, and where I play. It’s important to me to give back to my town.”