The chic lobby of Denver’s Ren Den Downtown is a great spot to enjoy a cocktail and some of Allen Tupper True’s art.
When Allen Tupper True painted 16 murals for the Colorado National Bank Building in 1925, he couldn’t have imagined that almost 90 years later they’d be lovingly restored and proudly displayed high above the floor of the old bank lobby, now transformed into the chic new lobby of the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel.
The recently unveiled Indian Memories murals comprise five triptychs — Youth, Buffalo Hunt, War, Women, and Art Work — and the large single mural Happy Hunting Ground. “You might expect images of progress, Conestoga wagons crossing the plains, farmers plowing the prairie, or ranchers moving cows, [but] for this series, True painted epic scenes of everyday Native life that included women and children and not just traditional warriors,” says art historian Peter Hassrick, director emeritus of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the Denver Art Museum’s Petrie Institute of Western American Art.
Born in Colorado Springs in 1881, True spent his childhood in Texas and Mexico before his family settled in Denver. He came from pioneer stock: His father, Henry, fought with Sam Houston, drove cattle from Texas to Montana, and later started a mercantile in Colorado. Allen went a different way, painting frontier culture as well as urban subjects like water, transportation, and even early aviation. His murals have been on view in the state capitols of Colorado, Wyoming, and Missouri, and in Denver’s public library and county courthouse.
In the forward to Allen Tupper True: An American Artist (University of Washington Press, 2009), Hassrick writes, “His mural and decorative embellishments for monumental architectural projects throughout the West affirm his role as an artist of profound importance and extraordinary breadth of vision.” Something to contemplate over an Allen Tupper True Cocktail while seated in the lobby of the Ren Den Downtown gazing on some of those very works of art.
From the January 2015 issue.