As a forerunner of the contemporary mural movement that began in the late 1960s, Emanuel worked in the civil rights movement with Cesar Chavez and other prominent leaders. Three of the art works he did in that era are now in the permanent collection of The Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. The work of this prolific, highly versatile artist has also won him numerous awards: including the Colorado Governors Award For Excellence in the Arts (1985), the Denver Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts (1995) and the Denver Civil Rights award in 2001.
Recently, Emanuel’s commitment to and work with at-risk youth led to a national movement to bring art to incarcerated youth. The Emanuel Project, named for him in 2012, began in a Georgia classroom as a way to focus the youth on academic activities and help them turn their lives around.
The Emanuel Project takes a multi-dimensional approach to reaching incarcerated youth, through research based curriculum and instruction, incentive programs, art therapy and vocational programs. By utilizing the tools in each of these areas, students, instructors and facilities as a whole are benefited.
Working with young people in juvenile detention centers, Emanuel has completed more than 36 “murals of hope” nationwide, including two 30-foot by 13-foot murals at the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center in Golden. You can support this valuable project at the non-profit organization’s website.
We are fortunate to have two prominent public examples of Emanuel’s work here in Jefferson County.
As an educator and community activist, Martinez has especially helped young people find ways to make their voices heard. We can all find parts of ourselves of our dreams in his artwork because he recreates the triumphs of the individual and at the same time affirms a collective identity…
—Andrew Connors, a former curator at the National Museum of American Art
- The Fallen Firefighters Memorial, located near Belmar Library in Lakewood, is Emanuel’s pre-eminent local work of public art. Commissioned by and completed in 2000, it reminds all passers-by of the sacrifices of those who serve our society in this dangerous capacity.
- The Morrison History Mural, completed in fall 2007, represents several scenes from Morrison’s first century—and much much earlier! This work was commissioned by the Lariat Loop Heritage Alliance and now anchors the kiosk and interpretive area in the historic downtown area at Morrison’s Bear Creek Avenue and Mt. Vernon Creek. As this information is no longer available via Lariat Loop, we’ve documented this project below.
Click to enlarge any of the photos in the gallery below.