Aurora seeking artistic entries for permanent 7/20 theater shooting memorial

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AURORA | The City of Aurora and the 7/20 Memorial Foundation Tuesday inched closer to erecting a permanent tribute for the victims of the Aurora theater shooting, after officials released a call for artistic entries online at CallForEntry.org.

The permanent memorial will be located in a 2,500-square-foot portion of the Reflections Garden within the city’s Water-Wise Demonstration Garden,  located just south of the Aurora Municipal Center near the intersection of East Alameda Parkway and Chambers Road.

The massacre occurred on July 20, 2012.

In addition to including native plants, flowering trees and private seating areas, the Memorial Foundation is seeking an installation that creates an atmosphere of solace through artistic and natural symbols, according to the call for the entry.

“(The Foundation is) drawn to the spirituality inherent in natural phenomena such as wind, which can be both powerful and soothing; and sound, such as wind chimes, reflecting a sense of randomness,” according to the entry. “They are not limiting this opportunity to only solutions incorporating wind and/or sound. Poetry, the poetic and the written word could also be appropriate in this context.”

While water features, specific religious symbols and themes that promote controversy or violence should not be included in design proposals, additional seating components may be considered.

The city has already decided to incorporate 13 benches in the garden in honor of each person killed in the massacre.

“The members of the 7/20 Memorial Foundation have put our hearts and souls into this project,” Heather Dearman, vice chair of the 7/20 Memorial Foundation, said in a statement. “We could not be more excited to take the next step in creating a place where the community and those impacted by loss from the events of July 20, 2012 can remember loved ones, reflect, and seek comfort, strength, peace and hope.”

Dearman’s cousin, Ashley Moser, was paralyzed in the theater shooting, and Moser’s 6-year-old daughter, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, was killed in the attack. Moser’s injuries also caused her to lose an unborn child.

The process of installing a permanent memorial in honor of those affected by the July 20, 2012 theater shooting, which left 12 people dead and 70 more injured, has waxed and waned in the years since the tragedy. After several years of sluggish fundraising, the nonprofit 7/20 Memorial Foundation — comprised mostly of family members of the shooting victims — received an unexpected $115,000 donation from the Colorado Community Church in August. That sudden sum propelled the Foundation about $20,000 past its longstanding fundraising goal of $200,000.

The 7/20 Memorial Foundation has committed at least $200,000 for “the design, fabrication and installation of a permanent memorial situated within the Reflections Garden,” according to the call for entry.

Other sizable contributions for the memorial have come from the Havana Business Improvement District, Highpoint Church and a class of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce’s leadership course.

The deadline for artist applications is 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 6. Finalists will be notified of their status March 1.

Interested applicants can view the complete call for entry on the Western States Arts Federation’s CAFÉ System website. Questions can be directed to Roberta Bloom, the city’s public art coordinator, at [email protected]