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Salida artist Michael Buckley recently completed “Stargazing”, a large public art mural. The 2,000 square feet mural fills the entire west wall of the Safeway store in Salida. Commissioned by Rivian, a U.S. manufacturer of electric vehicles (EVs), the piece is an inspiring backdrop to the eight EV charging stations that Rivian opened in late June.

Rivian R1T EV pulls an Airstream trailer into extra-long berth with high-speed Rivian charger in background. Merrell Bergin photo

The chargers are the first-in-the world, installed as the beginning of the Adventure Charging Network. Four of the chargers are dedicated to Rivian vehicles and the others are open to any type of EV.

Rivian asked local artists this question: “What does Adventure mean to you and what does it mean to the community of Salida?”

Buckley responded with a single word; “Stargazing” and then went on to explain its universal appeal. After being chosen by Rivian, the design also won approval from the City of Salida and Safeway Stores.

Buckley says about the finished work: “As you walk or pedal the Monarch Spur Trail, you will pass a brightly colored mural depicting a portrait of a mother and child looking up at the night sky.” The mural fits into the larger sensibility that drives Buckley.

“In my work, I am looking for triggers that bring me back to the present moment. The night sky is one of those triggers,” he continued. “These are little things that help me to wake up and get busy living. The Hubble Deep Field image blows my mind every time I see it.”

The projects Buckley typically builds are large-scale works of concrete, steel, wood, and earth. These projects, he says, are informed by landscapes: night skies, oceans, deserts, rivers, and clouds.

He has two pieces in Denver’s permanent public art collection in this realm:

“Infinite Span” at Grant-Frontier Park at East Evans Avenue and the South Platte River
“We Are Future Strata” on the Highline Canal Trail, at Hampden and Colorado Boulevards)

Images of these and other works are available on his Instagram page. Salida Safeway’s website is https://www.loc8nearme.com/colorado/salida/safeway/2483317/

After graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of Oregon with an emphasis in Multimedia Design, Buckley worked in the Pacific Northwest and Amsterdam before returning to Salida, Colorado to settle down. He lives here with his wife (who assisted with the installation) and nine-year-old son, Dutch.

In his artist statement, Buckley sums up his passion: “I am for an art that makes you feel alive. I want to be so in the moment that I feel butterflies in my stomach. Butterflies, because I am aware that life is so beautiful and so short”.

“These are rare moments. Disruptions to the day-to-day routine of life. Moments that make you zoom out. Moments that make you wake up.”

Featured image: Rivian charging station “Stargazing” wall mural at Safeway in Salida by Salida-based artist, “Buckley”. Merrell Bergin photo.