Creative mural brings new life to old Oriental Theater

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DENVER — The Oriental Theater in Denver has a new look thanks to Meow Wolf and one of Colorado’s most talented artists.

The historic theater has been around since the 1920s. It’s located on Tennyson Street in Denver’s Berkeley neighborhood.

For decades, the inside of the Oriental Theater featured an Asian-themed mural. Unfortunately, time took its toll on the mural and it faded fast.

"The mural that was [up there featured] palm trees,” said John Hastings. “And some Taj Mahal type buildings”.

Hastings is a well-known artist in Denver. He goes by the nickname, ‘RUMTUM’. A couple months ago, Hastings was commissioned by Meow Wolf, a wildly popular Arts & Entertainment company based out of Santa Fe, to create a new mural for the theater.

"You know, Meow Wolf hired me to come in and do this project and they have some pretty expressive ideas and they’re really pushing limits on what’s happening with installation art,” Hastings said.

Meow Wolf’s interactive art complex in Santa Fe, which some describe as ‘a demented Disneyland for adults’, is one of the most popular attractions in New Mexico. Each year, millions of tourists visit it to experience the breathtaking and unique artwork it features.

In 2020, Meow Wolf plans to build a second complex right here in the Mile High City. Its CEO and co-founder, Vince Kadlubek has plenty of ties to Denver and considers it a second home.

One of Meow Wolf’s backers is Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin.

Kadlubek, Martin and their entire team believe in the importance art has on a community — which is why Meow Wolf has been pouring plenty of money into the Denver art scene well ahead of its 2020 debut.

"They want to be part of the community and support us and give back,” Hastings said of Meow Wolf.

Hastings said Meow Wolf has been donating money to historical buildings such as the Oriental Theater to help spruce things up.

The new mural created by Hastings and his team took about two months to complete.

It pays homage to the original mural, but has a colorful and vibrant twist to it.

"That was the biggest challenge - making something that stayed true to what was already there, but doing something new - [while] also being innovative,” Hastings said.

The mural is wrapped around the entire interior of the theater, bringing new life to the old venue.

To see more of Hasting’s stunning artwork, you can visit his website, Facebook page or Instagram page.

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