Dominated by the State Capitol Building, a glorious white granite structure with real gold leaf on the dome, the Capitol Hill (Cap Hill) neighborhood has been home to the bohemians, the punks and the avant–garde ever since the days of Neil Cassidy, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Today, it still stands as a neighborhood not afraid to show how artsy it can be. Take the chance to discover and enjoy six of the best stops in Cap Hill for artsy adventures, some directly within the boundaries decided by the City of Denver and some just right outside of them, decided by us at 303.
Though we aren’t mentioning all of the possibilities, like seeing a show at The Ogden or Fillmore on Colfax, exploring the museums in the Golden Triangle, eating your heart out at any of the unique restaurants or relaxing at Civic Center Park (especially for the People’s Fair in early June), these following suggestions are the cultural cherries of Cap Hill. The best suggestion is to venture into the most populated place in Denver and discover the magic yourself, and let us kindly remind you that parking is at a premium in this area and with its density of attractions it is possible and downright enjoyable to walk or take public transportation between the places (not to mention eco–friendly).
Curious Theatre Company
Where: 1080 Acoma St.
When: Open during performances
The Low Down: With a motto like “No guts, no story” the Curious Theatre Company demands that you take a step out of your comfort zone when you witness the talent and courage of one of their plays. They aim to produce shows that are thought–provoking, cutting–edge and contemporary while keeping their productions accessible to a broad range of viewers. The venue itself is a historic building—a converted church—and it is hard to find a bad seat in the house. Starting May 12 they will perform White Guy on the Bus, a play that is, according to their website, a “provocative, unflinchingly candid examination of race in America today.” Check out their website for other upcoming events and to purchase tickets.
Clyfford Still Museum
What: Museum dedicated to the works of Clyfford Still
Where: 1250 Bannock St.
When: Tues–Thurs 10a.m.– 5p.m., Friday 10a.m.–8p.m., Sat–Sun 10a.m.–5p.m.
Cost: $10 adults, $6 students/teachers, free every Friday from 5–8 p.m.
The Low Down: This is the newest addition to the Cultural Arts District in Denver, built in 2011 by Brad Cloepfil and specifically designed to house the works of Still (due to a stipulation in his will), who was one of the first to develop the idea of Abstract Expressionism after World War II. The main theme of the movement was to address “the human condition” through bold colors, scale and style that was yet unfamiliar to the masses. During his lifetime Still severed many of his ties to the mainstream art community, keeping his work private. Now the Still Museum in Cap Hill houses 95 percent of his work, which makes it the most intact body of work from any major artist.
Denver Story Trek
What: Interactive multi–media tour
Where: Cap Hill
When: At your leisure
The Low Down: Denver is rich in stories from history, with many influential and interesting characters littering the scene. With Denver Story Trek you can create your own tour and download audio files which explain dozens of sites within Denver, or you can sign up for the text message service which will text you clues to the next site on your list. In Cap Hill you can visit Poet’s Row, where Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac resided for a short period and even stop at one of the bars they frequented at the Colburn Hotel.
The Dikeou Collection
What: Pop–up art gallery
Where: 312 E. Colfax Ave
When: Wednesday—Friday 11 a.m.–5 p.m., or during special events
The Low Down: Denver–born artist Devin Dikeou started this little–known gem of a gallery, first opening one in Downtown and then expanding to the location on Colfax. Known for having art which is participatory in nature, where the reality of installation asks the viewer to become more than just a witness, this space is a perfect place to plan an interesting day around. Currently the gallery has an extensive collection of vinyl records and a special exhibition by Lizzi Bougatsos, but occasionally hosts special events which they post on their website.
What: Fine Art Gallery
Where: 1261 Delaware St.
When: Tuesday–Saturday 11 a.m.– 6 p.m.
The Low Down: Gallery 1261 is “driven not by commercial tastes or market standards, but rather by pure expression and artistic talent.” A delightful place to appreciate some really outstanding pieces of work from a diverse group of artists, this gallery seems like a little museum more than a place to sell and buy art. Artist Quang Ho takes pride in his “brainchild” gallery and emphasizes his desire to create a space for artists he knows and admires to display their work without financial constraints. Make sure to find Jeremy Mann’s The Geary St. Storm, and get lost looking at it.
What: Tattoo Shop
Where: 609 E. 13th St.
When: Tuesday–Friday 12–10 p.m., Sundays and Mondays by appointment
The Low Down: If you prefer your art to be on your body, Landmark Tattoo in the heart of Cap Hill has an extremely talented staff willing to give you just that. Their style is quintessential Cap Hill—whimsical and punk, framed pictures and curse words, artsy and unapologetic. Choose from artists Seth Brown, Ben Thompson, Jher 451, Nikolas Pew or Josh Ford. Check their website for examples from each artist, and go in with an idea of your own or allow them to free–hand something memorable. Either way, you’ll have a piece of Denver art forever.