I’ve always been fascinated with large murals in urban areas where the concrete landscape bursts to life with vibrant artwork. There are several murals in our mountain community that bring me happiness every time I pass, and I was determined to find out who was adding all this additional beauty. Her name is Jules Elders and her larger-than-life murals adorn the walls of Parkside Café and JR’s Landscaping in Bergen Park as well as a fantastic mountain-scape outside El Rancho (and several more in Evergreen and the Denver area). Jules’ artistic intention with her murals is to “add beauty, emotion and interest relevant to the space with an impactful experience.”
Jules created her first mural while in high school at a sub shop in downtown Chicago, outside of her hometown, Wheaton. She was later a part of the Hubbard Street Mural Project where local artists painted sections of the wall that ran along the train lines.
Growing up in Chicago provided Jules access to art schools, museums and culture which such a large city provides. Also, under the wing of her single mother, Jules’ “babysitter” was “a stack of paper and an enormous bin of markers and crayons.” All of this inspired the young artist to explore creativity at an early age. Her talent bloomed in high school when she devoured as many art classes as possible, which paid off with a scholarship to the Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She earned a BFA in painting with a minor in graphic design.
As with most artists, unfortunately art doesn’t initially pay the rent. There is usually another career that must be tended. For Jules it was graphic design in the advertising industry. For 20 years, she worked up the corporate ladder in Chicago at some of the biggest advertising agencies. While her artistic skills were being utilized, she wasn’t enjoying the cutthroat ways of the advertising industry. Her tipping point came when her sweet baby girl spent more time in daycare and not enough time in her arms. Work was demanding and Jules didn’t want to be an absent mother, so the wise single mama squirreled away enough funds to transition careers.
She began taking teaching courses and sought ways to integrate her artistic passion with parenting. She wanted to “give to her daughter’s generation and help cultivate a love for art.”
Having summered in Colorado with her grandparents, she already knew the mountain environment she wished to raise her child in and made the move out West. It was at her daughter’s first school in Denver that the opportunity to teach art to children presented itself.
Jules developed Art’s Cool (now Evergreen Art School) in August of 2019 as a K-5 after-school enrichment program. It flourished beyond her expectations, and before long all of her sessions were full. When the pandemic hit, Jules knew she needed to get creative if she was to keep her business afloat, and she thought, what if I taught these classes on Zoom? She was beside herself when the unique idea became wildly popular. So much so that it was spotlighted by Denver 4 News and ran nationally. Soon after, Jules was teaching kids from New Jersey to California all via computer.
In the summer of 2021, Jules and her daughter ventured up the mountain to Evergreen and found a home for the Evergreen Art School in what she likes to call “the treehouse” because its third floor location delivers inspiring treetop views of downtown and overlooks the main intersection. Inside, the walls hold Jules’ whimsical artwork alongside student pieces. And every inch of the intimate studio space is filled with some form of colorful art. Ms. Jules, as her students affectionately call her, teaches many different mediums—drawing, watercolor, acrylic, charcoal, graphite, and oil pastel—to all ages, all week long.
The best part of teaching art for Jules is seeing the smile on a student’s face when they complete a project. “That’s the thing. This is a happy place where people can escape their world and worries for a while and leave feeling so much better than when they came in,” she explains.
What I noticed most about Jules was her positive energy and overall enthusiasm for creating and inspiring others. She has combined her worlds of parent, business owner and artist through a sheer will to provide the life she dreamed for her daughter—a beautiful tale to be told.
How would friends or family describe you?
Passionate, creative, loving, kind, independent, tenacious, honest.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
My daughter. I live and breathe for her.
Share a talent you have besides creating art.
I’m musical. I’ve played the guitar, bass, drums and violin. And I love to sing. I integrate music into my classes as well and bust out the ukulele for toddler time.
When was the last time you danced?
Today, during class.
Visit artbyjules.org if you’d like to see more of Jules’ murals and artwork. Or visit evergreenartschool.com to check out the art classes for all ages. There’s Paint & Sip offerings for adults as well!