Sunday, July 19, 2009

Indian Memories at Colorado National Bank

Painted by Denver muralist Allen True, whose works also grace the walls of the Denver and Cheyenne capitols, the expanded Colorado National Bank interior opened to the public in December 1926. Mr. True worked on the series of fourteen murals for over three years. Reflecting the changing attitudes toward the American Indians in the 1920s, Mr. True sought to portray the Plains Indians "before his contact with the white race--days when he roamed the beautiful untouched reaches of our West in deep but unconscious sympathy with the loveliness of primeval nature--days when his dignity and cruelty, his joy of living, stoic endurance and primitive integrity, as well as beauty and superstition and religious belief, made the cycle of his life an epic which has never been properly sensed or understood by the white race."

This mural is entitled "Happy Hunting Ground".

" old leather-dry squaw sits by the edge of a waterfall, leaning eagerly and intently forward, for there in the iridescent spray she fancies that shes sees her own girlhood beckoning to her. She imagines herself young again and splashing through the water with other laughing, dancing maidens. In the morning air a mist hangs over the water and from the mist, and the shadows of the quaking aspens, appear the figures of still other girls and young mothers smiling contentedly at the happy dancers in the water."

"The once mighty chief of a warlike tribe besats the rhythm of his war chant whle the witer snows whirl past him...."

"An old buck sits in front of his chip fire and dreams..."

This series is entitled "Youth".

All of these photos were taken by Roger Whitacre and appear in the book Growing Through History with Colorado: The Colorado National Banks by Tom Noel. The quotes are from the artist himself.

As I have not heard any differently, these murals remain in the now shuttered Colorado National Bank building (most recently known as US Bank) at 17th and Champa. These treasures must be saved and it is hoped that they will again grace the walls of this building in one of its future uses. Some of Allen True's other paintings and murals appear in Civic Center Park and at the Brown Palace Hotel. He graduated from Manual High School in 1899.


BruceQ said...

Cool, Shawn, thanks for that! Do you know if the art in the entranceway of the Telephone Building is by True? (

My favorite is the DC-3 in the lobby of the Brown!

Shawn Snow said...

Hi Bruce,

Yes, those paintings at the Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Building were done by Allen True. For more information on Allen True, visit the following website:

Mr. True's descendents have put together an amazing book dealing with his life's work. The website includes other information as well, including the endangered paintings at CNB.

Kirby said...

I am Allen True's grandaughter and the co-author with my mother of the biography "Allen Tupper True: An American Artist." Thanks for your blog about the bank building murals (there are 16 of them). As you probably know, the bank has been bought by Stonebridge Companies which plans to turn the building into a hotel and preserve the murals. This is very good news, as these "Indian Memories" murals are True's finest and are a Colorado and national treasure. For more information about True go to:
Cheers, Victoria Tupper Kirby

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