Posted: Thursday November 30, 2017
The Allen True Mural
By the time the Jonas Brothers moved into their new building at 1037 Broadway in 1923, their
company had a successful taxidermy business and the new location had space which offered
room to pursue a new venture: furs.
The company, which was founded by brothers Coloman and John Jonas in 1908, was soon
thriving in both areas so it’s not surprising that they commissioned Allen Tupper True, Denver’s
premier muralist of the first half of the century, to paint a mural of African animals gathered near
water as a decoration for the business. Legend has it that True agreed to do the mural in
exchange for two fur coats for his wife, who then soon after divorced him. It is not known whether True ever received the coats, or if he eventually gave them to his wife.
True is known for painting many pieces of iconic art that depicted the American West, as well as
designing the bucking horse and rider for the state of Wyoming that is still used on the state’s
license plates, but his piece for Jonas Brothers entitled “The Water Hole” is quite different than
his other works as it depicts African animals near a watering hole.
True completed “The Water Hole” in 1935. It is a 6-foot by 22-foot oil-on- canvas mural that
hung at the building until SoCo founder Regas Christou bought the building in 1995. Christou
later moved the mural to former SoCo venue City Hall at 1144 Broadway, where it was
photographed in 2010 by Georgia Garnsey for her book The Murals of Colorado: Walls That
Speak. After seeing the mural, Garnsey said the mural was “faded with a few minor tears,”
adding that it should be repaired, cleaned and permanently hung in a public space.
“The Water Hole” found that public space when Christou and his family donated the mural in
2014 to the Downtown Denver Expeditionary School, which opened at 1860 Lincoln Street. The
mural has been restored and is now displayed in a room where the Denver Public Schools board
holds its monthly meetings.