Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority

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Art Development Projects

 

 

Arts in Public Spaces

The second of only two memorials in the U.S. recognizing African-American frontiersman and pioneer James P. Beckwourth was the first of seven founder sculptures installed at El Pueblo History Museum’s recently named “Founders’ Plaza.”  

The contemporary-styled Beckwourth Memorial was commissioned by the Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority as part of its “Arts in Public Spaces” initiative.  The project was coordinated by PURA with the help of the City of Pueblo, Art and Soul Street Gallery, and the El Pueblo History Museum.

 

 James P. Beckwourth was an African American born into slavery in Virginia in April 6, 1798.  He later moved to the West and became a fur trapper, and lived with the Crow.  In 1840, he moved to the Bent & St. Vrain Company where he and the Bent brothers built Fort Bent on the Arkansas River. Later that same year, Beckwourth became an independent trader. Together with other partners, he built the trading post Pueblo in Colorado. From it the city Pueblo, Colorado was developed.  Nationwide, Beckwourth is better known for the discovery of Beckwourth Pass through the Sierra Nevada (U.S.) Mountains between current day Reno, Nevada and Portola, California during the California Gold Rush years.  Immigrants used the Beckwourth Pass to settle the west, avoiding the notorious “Dommer Party Trail,” where immigrants found themselves snowbound and resorting to cannibalism to survive.  The first and only other memorial commemorating Beckwourth is found in Portola, CA.

 

The five-foot, mixed-use memorial features a translucent image of Beckwourth that stands on a three-foot pedestal.  Art and Soul Street Gallery coordinated the artist solicitation process, referring to the already-talented pool of Art and Soul Street Gallery artists that help decorate our downtown streets.