COLORADO, USA — A postcard of Colorado might look something like this: A snow-covered peak towering over a rushing, mountain river, with bright, blue skies overhead. Throw in an elk herd hanging out in the meadow near the water, and that is something that could be sold on a souvenir rack.
That view though, is only half the state.
“The openness and the quietness is actually something to be treasured,” said Staci Beauford as she looked out at the fields near Proctor, Colo. “You say, ‘I’m from Colorado,’ and get, ‘Oh the mountains, you must ski,’ and I’m like, ‘Actually, I’ve never been skiing in my life.’”
Beauford is half of the group of artists that call themselves Some Girls and a Mural. The other half is Audrey Sayles, her cousin. The pair focus on painting murals all over eastern Colorado on interesting canvases like grain bins and grain elevators. They have also painted murals in rural spots in Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, and Illinois. Together, they have completed about 90 murals.
“I want something that makes those farmers smile on those rough days, that they just look at it and they know that we get them, that we see them,” Beauford said.
"There’s a lot of wonderful people out here,” Sayles said, as she painted an American flag mural on a grain bin near Proctor, Colo. for the Stromberger family.
Beauford and Sayles do not know many of their clients, but they said they feel like they understand them. The reason behind that is simple.
“I’m a flatlander at heart and a farm girl at heart, and I love eastern Colorado,” Sayles said.
Sayles grew up on a farm in Seibert, Colo., and Staci, near Hugo, Colo. They know the farm life, and the people who make these communities tick.
“We think sometimes because we’re out here and we’re farmers, we’re too busy to deserve things,” Sayles said. “We have culture, we have thoughts, we have emotions.”
Beauford and Sayles painted their first mural five years ago in Limon. They had never done anything like it, so when they posted a picture of it, they did not expect much. That picture of a grain bin with their “Heart of Harvest” mural went viral.
“I didn’t know it was needed that bad,” Beauford said. “I thought it was just for me and my family, but apparently everyone needed it—it was time.”
They did not even really have a name at that point, Sayles said, and only came up with Some Girls and a Mural while they were painting “Heart of Harvest.” The pair laughed when explaining that their name comes from people referring to them as “those girls painting a mural” or “those crazy girls out there painting.”
Once they figured that out and had their first mural, their business took off and they have been busy painting the plains ever since.
“It absolutely blows my mind, and I say all the time, I feel like God had to have put this in my life because if I would’ve made the business plan to go into business and paint murals in eastern Colorado with my cousin, I couldn’t have dreamed that up—there’s no way,” Beauford said. “I know this is where we’re supposed to be.”
The cousins work with families and communities to come up with designs. For Brad Stromberger and his family, the process took about a year. They chose a large American flag, along with their last name, which is easy to see on the side of a grain bin right off I-70 near Proctor. He hopes the 23 foot by 38 foot mural sends a message.
“I think it’s just important to understand that there is farming in this world that feeds the world,” Stromberger said. “It’s not all corporate farming, there’s a lot of family farms.”
Stromberger said he thinks it is easy for people to forget that there is more to Colorado than the mountains.
“I think a lot of times people have the misconception that the eastern half of the state is Nebraska, but there is still some Colorado left out here,” Stromberger said.
As Some Girls and a Mural wrapped up their 2023 painting season, they looked forward to what comes next. Beauford lives in Arkansas most of the year with her family, Sayles stays in Colorado. They both design, plan, and prepare for another busy summer. A lot of their murals end up being flags, which they love so much that they give 10 percent discounts for each one they paint that includes one.
“We’d go to Denver if they asked us, but we’re also pretty content because we’re busy here,” Sayles said. “People have embraced what we’re doing here.”
Stromberger and his family are some of those people.
“We haven’t been art collectors per se, but I guess we’re in the business now,” Stromberger said as the muralists put their finishing touches on his grain bin.
The cousins know this is where they belong, brush in hand, far from the mountains that come to mind when Colorado is mentioned.
“If you live a grateful life, and you can appreciate the beauty that’s around you, and you can appreciate the things that we do have and you support those. It can be a really fulfilling place to live,” Sayles said.
For them, it is a feeling cannot be found on any old postcard.
>Check out the map below to see the location of murals by Beauford and Sayles.
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