Artist Ratha Sok draws from surrounding natural elements with uplifting “Great Day” mural at RTD’s RidgeGate Station
Gracing the wall of the RidgeGate Station parking structure that overlooks the newly opened Larry L. Levin Park is a lively, iconic mural featuring quintessential birds and other native features. Since RTD extended light rail to RidgeGate Station in Lone Tree in 2019, the surrounding area has grown to include affordable and market rate housing along with retail space for residents and rail customers.
Seasoned muralist Ratha Sok created “Great Day” to embrace the themes of community and vibrancy. Funding for this most recent addition to RTD’s Art-n-Transit program was provided by the Rampart Range Metropolitan District.
In creating the mural, Sok looked to the natural elements present in the landscape around Lone Tree to develop artwork that would be a fitting connection for the community. The birds on the artwork are Colorado backyard birds: the Eastern Phoebe and the American Robin.
A first-generation Cambodian American who was born in Denver, Sok began his art journey in 2002. “I was the founder of my high school’s mural club and have continued to pursue the arts since then. My humble roots come from graffiti and have evolved into my art career today as a muralist,” Sok said. His community-centered artworks have been installed across the Denver metro area and throughout Colorado, Texas, Oregon and California.
While Sok’s artistic process is unique to each installation, it begins with a reflection on his previous work, along with an examination of the community, its roots and local natural elements. “From there,” Sok explains, “I can find clarity on how to develop the concept ideas further based on the projects’ needs, community, and my personal artistic perspectives.”
Given RidgeGate Station’s high visibility to transit commuters, park visitors and Lone Tree residents, Sok developed his mural concept around providing a public art piece that utilizes natural elements and vivid colors to set the tone for people to have a “Great Day.”
Sok said, “At a high level (featuring public art at RidgeGate Station) impacts the area and station’s overall experience for residents, commuters and visitors. It provides a tone and foundational experience for those who can access and experience it.”
The artwork, completed in July, was made possible through a partnership involving the Rampart Range Metropolitan District, RTD, the City of Lone Tree and the art selection committee, consisting of community members and local stakeholders. A public dedication ceremony for the mural and Larry L. Levin Park was held on November 20.
Since 1994, the mission of RTD's Art-n-Transit program has been to enhance the design, aesthetic quality and user friendliness of transit projects, and to foster transit-oriented community development.
The Art-n-Transit program is based on RTD's belief that public art helps provide a stronger connection between neighborhoods and transit. Installing artwork at transit facilities creates a sense of community and provides opportunities to celebrate the diverse cultural, ethnic and historical richness of the many communities RTD serves. In addition to enhancing the beauty of the entire transit system, public art also helps discourage vandalism and graffiti.