After these last couple weeks, the 38th Street Underpass in RiNo is no longer an eyesore — and it may be less sketchy to bike or walk through alone, too. That’s due to the combined efforts of Knomad Colab and So-Gnar Creative Division, who teamed up to produce an art piece called Arabesque from one side of the underpass to the other. So-Gnar’s contribution includes two huge murals on either side of the walls. Knomad Colab’s part was lit up last night in front of a crowd of about a hundred onlookers, who oohed and awed when the colorful display turned on for good.
Knomad Colab is a Denver-based duo — Katy Flaccavento and Zachary Christopher — who uses lighting design as a kind of temporary paint. Some of their past exhibits have included a one-night-only display at Red Rocks and at Garden of the Gods. Both times, the couple projected colorful lighting arrangements onto the rocks, resulting in a technological (and non-invasive) graffiti. Arabesque is 15 months in the making for them, from imagining what they could do, to creating steel barriers, to planning the light display, to installing. “This was such a collaborative effort,” Flaccavento remarked at the reveal, “it is amazing to see it working like we imagined.”
The project, funded in part by Denver Arts & Venue, not only helps light up a much-needed space, it provides an artistic intermission for drivers as well as pedestrians and bikers. Drivers will see a different design from the street view, and the median also contains light fixtures that cast colorful shadows on support beams. This creative light display was the main inspiration for the murals painted by So-Gnar Creative Division, which use large geometric shapes and mirror the colors of the lights.
Knomad Colab usually presents temporary installations, but this is a permanent one that may become more of a practice for them. With some technical coding, they’ve created a display that changes through nearly infinite patterns, with blinking sections morphing into steady ones. In the future, Knomad Colab will ask people to take photos of different landscapes and submit them in order to multiply the inspiration behind the designs. Depending on time of day, weather and special events, the display will morph and evolve. The color scheme is heavy on blues and fuchsia, with highlights of green and orange.
“It’s been such an incredible and arduous journey, we are pinching ourselves, and driving by way too much to make sure it’s still real,” Flaccavento and Christopher commented after last night. “We were both relieved and elated not only to see the space come to life, but to share the moment with the overwhelming support of our community. It’s an honor to become part of Denver’s cultural landscape!” Now, thanks to these artists and over a year of hard work, the pedestrian walkway feels welcoming and maybe even a little mesmerizing.