CRUSH has been elevating the street art scene in Denver for seven years as of September. For 2017, the organization is stepping it up with its biggest gathering to date. Each year, dozens of street artists take over the RiNo neighborhood, transforming the streets into a free art gallery. Some of the murals from previous years’ festivals will be painted over, while other blank walls will be given attention. There will be more walls, more artists, more events and more days dedicated to the immersive street art festival this year. In addition, CRUSH returns with a major sponsorship. Meow Wolf, the Santa Fe art collective known for its wildly popular immersive exhibit in New Mexico, confirmed to 303 Magazine it will support CRUSH 2017 as a sponsor. The full details of the sponsorship are still yet to be released so make sure to check back for more.
At a recent RiNo neighborhood meeting, some new plans were discussed that have exciting implications. CRUSH — which stands for Creative Rituals Under Social Harmony — focuses on bringing art directly to the streets, transforming how the public experiences it and connecting those artists with their viewers.
One of the reasons this year’s CRUSH will be the biggest to date is because the boundaries of the festival have been widened. Artists will be painting in RiNo East, from 27th up to 40th and Williams Street, along with a few outlying additions. These expanded boundaries come in part because CRUSH will be raising the number of participating artists from 85 to 100, which means there will be 100 walls used as canvasses.
About 60 percent of the artists will be Colorado locals, with the remaining artists coming from around the country and all over the world, including Germany, Japan, England, Kuwait and more. Some of the local Denver artists that should be recognizable because of their many other murals around town are: the founder of CRUSH Dread, Detour, Jaysaybay, Ozjuah Sepia and Michael Ortiz (aka illson). Some other names that have made their mark on Denver in the past and will be returning for the festival are Lauren Napolitano and Blaine Fontana (see pictures of some of their previous work here.) According to the festival organizers, this year’s CRUSH will also feature more female artists than ever before.
Another reason to look forward to the bigger festival this year is the amount of time artists will be painting across RiNo. In the past, CRUSH has only taken place for two days, on a weekend, but this year it will last an entire week. From September 11 through 17 artists will be painting walls outside, open to anyone to take a look and even join in conversation. CRUSH organizers will also be coordinating special programming related to street art, such as an “attorney talk” and a graffiti lecture.
This year also marks a milestone for CRUSH because it is now a nonprofit that has a staff dedicated to organizing and carrying out the event. Though the plans are not finalized, it is a possibility that CRUSH may work with Denver Day Works to hire homeless individuals to help with tasks during the festival as well.
Stay tuned for 303’s continuing coverage of the festival as it approaches in September. For more information and to see a more complete list of artists participating, visit the CRUSH website.
Want a preview? Check out our gallery of murals from last year’s Colorado CRUSH:
All photography by Brittany Werges