National spotlight on Zimmerman artwork from Skittles

DENVER — It’s been on display at a Denver art center for just a couple of days and already it’s creating a major stir. A portrait of George Zimmerman, the man charged with second-degree murder in the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, is drawing major interest from galleries and media across the country.

“It’s been like fire, it has spread everywhere,” said Laura Merage, the founder of RedLine contemporary art center at 23rd and Arapahoe. “Honestly I’m surprised at the attention it has gotten.”

The artwork, titled “Fear Itself,” is composed of over 12,000 colored Skittles, the candy Martin was holding when Zimmerman shot and killed him February 26 in Sanford, Florida. The Skittles were individually glued to a piece of plywood.

“I would have never thought to use any kind of candy as a medium of art,” said Davis Brown, an art student at Metro State College who toured RedLine with his drawing class on Saturday. “That’s fantastically creative.”

A fellow Metro State art student, Andy Bell, created the portrait. While at RedLine with his class recently, he showed a photo of the portrait to an employee at the art space.

“We saw the strength of the piece and the power and felt that it’s a good piece to have in this space,” Merage said. She said RedLine often looked for artwork that would spark conversation.

“Through visual art it’s a very effective way to get people engaged, talk about what’s going on contemporarily and I think that’s really the role of art,” said Robert McMullen, RedLine Volunteer and Membership Manager.

Bell, who was too exhausted to give interviews Saturday afternoon, could profit handsomely from his Zimmerman portrait. Besides reporters who’ve tried to contact him, several galleries outside of Colorado are interested in purchasing the piece which, one art expert says, could end up fetching tens of thousands of dollars.