For the ninth year, the street art festival CRUSH reinvented RiNo with a whole new cast of characters on the walls. Throughout the past week, over 70 artists spent countless hours painting, stenciling, wheatpasting and creating installations — all for the public to enjoy at any time. For the first time in CRUSH’s nearly decade of beautifying RiNo, all the artists received paid stipends, more walls were included and the festival boundaries moved across the train tracks to Brighton Boulevard. One of the best parts about CRUSH is watching the artists work, but in case you missed that, we have you covered with a photo recap. But, don’t forget these murals will remain on the walls for quite some time, so go check them out on your own for the full experience.
The Central CRUSH area, in this case, includes the Denver Central Market parking lot, the alley behind that parking lot and the murals found on Larimer Street. Artists with high prestige received the main walls in the parking lot, most notably Shepard Fairey. About his mural, Fairey wrote in a Facebook post the day after he left Denver, “Street art has sometimes been criticized as a catalyst for gentrification. I’m a believer that with the right policies in place, support for public art and protections for residents and the most vulnerable populations can exist side by side. My Power & Equality mural is meant to support that idea on a local level while pushing back against the forces of division and racism who have been emboldened by the current administration. After talking to two Denver City Council members about policies and local business owners who have created a stipend/scholarship fund for local low-income artists, I feel like efforts are being made to address the potential downside of gentrification.”
Any experience at CRUSH is incomplete without a trip down the alleys. Heading north from the Denver Central Market parking lot, the alleys between Larimer and Walnut are the most saturated, with nearly every possible surface covered with art.
For the first time, Brighton Boulevard and the west side of the train tracks in RiNo were included in CRUSH. This activation meant that completely new walls were given their inaugural piece of street art. And, perhaps because Brighton hasn’t had much love in the last few years with all the construction, some of the biggest name Denver artists were included on this side.
Every year it seems bittersweet when murals that we’ve come to love are buffed and re-painted. But, then we see all the new murals and graffiti and street art and remember how wonderful it is that we attract so much art in one neighborhood. This year, some of our favorites were locals, others were visiting, including the Spanish team Pichiavo. This duo is one we think everyone should keep their eye on.
The Hidden Art of Jaune
Jaune is an artist from Belgium who, after working in cities’ public utility departments for years, realized that despite the reflective clothing, most city-dwellers never noticed the workers. Using handcut stencils at first, Jaune started creating tableaus of utility workers doing humorous tasks in hard-to-notice places — a message about the paradox he experienced as a worker and an homage to the profession. Now, Jaune has so many characters that he uses a laser cutter to create the number of stencils he needs to do the job. Each character is created by layering different stencils and then spray painting the colors. Jaune also has a cast of stickers that are no taller than a few inches. Most of Jaune’s work at this year’s CRUSH can be found on Brighton — a fitting area considering the still-constant presence of utility, construction and public works workers. But, there are a few other pieces in central RiNo that you’ll have to search around for to find.