Every year, Denver’s public art scene grows in large part due to the city’s own efforts, like those of Denver Arts & Venues. One program, P.S. You Are Here (PSYAH), offers grants to fund projects that are unique to local communities and help revitalize public spaces. The grant money comes from capital improvement funding that is part of the IMAGINE 2020 initiative. Last year, eight grants were issued that resulted in a variety of activations throughout the city including a mural project on 6th Avenue and Federal Boulevard, an investigation of tiny homes at RedLine and the Happy City transformation. This week, the 2018-19 recipients were announced, with nearly $60,000 going to six projects. Each recipient of a PSYAH grant must match their award either in-kind with cash or with in-kind contributions (like goods, services or volunteer time).

Though there are fewer groups participating this year, they represent a powerhouse of Denver artists and institutions. The projects stretch across Denver, from Sloan’s Lake and Westwood in the west to New Freedom Park in the east. “We are excited to support projects that integrate surprising moments of art and culture into the daily lives of Denver’s residents and visitors,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock in a press release. Though these projects won’t be started until the start of next year at least, we’ve outlined what to expect below.

The Projects

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Sloan’s Lake Citizen Group & Ladies Fancywork Society: The area surrounding Sloan’s Lake has been getting a makeover for the last few years. With a string of developments in what used to be the St. Anthony’s hospital plot, there has been more motivation to restore the historic area to its former liveliness. With help from Denver artists Ladies Fancywork Society, the Sloan’s Lake Citizen Group will reinvigorate a fence surrounding a maintenance yard that sits in close proximity to a sports court, picnic area and walking path near the lake. The Ladies will imbue their iconic yarn flair into and onto the fence. $10,000 awarded

The Art Garage & Westwood Arts District: If you haven’t taken the time to visit the Westwood Arts District on Morrison Road, this grant might provide the perfect excuse to make it happen. Known for its Latino culture, the district will create a “hub” providing a nexus of information about the local art scene, cultural heritage and other resources. Throughout the district and as part of the grant, stenciled symbols will guide people to certain murals — and trust us, the murals are worth the visit alone. $7,500 awarded

Birdseed Collective: Local street artist Anthony Garcia Sr. co-founded the Birdseed Collective with entrepreneur Michael Broberg and musician Robin Walker in 2009 in order to address a variety of local problems through creativity. They’ve been persistent with their applications for grants and other funding, to their success. Last year, Birdseed Collective was awarded a PSYAH grant in order to engage 20 artists to paint dumpsters in the Columbine Denver Housing Authority development. This year, the group will again enlist the help of some local artists and Villa Park Registered Neighborhood Organization (RNO) volunteers to paint the retaining wall of the Lakewood Gulch walking path from 10th Avenue to Osceola Street. The path, which is currently billed as “graffiti-filled,” will be transformed with Birdseed Collective’s expert use of patterns and bright color. Hand-painted rocks will also be created in order to line the path. $10,000 awarded

Montbello 2020 & Thomas “Detour” Evans: A major drainage canal in Montbello will receive a makeover from local artist Thomas Evans. Evans has been making waves in the Denver art scene for the last few years, especially with his colorful portrait murals that usually portray a locally loved person. He’s been busy recently, with a one-night-only project at the Denver Art Museum, participation in CRUSH and an ongoing series of commissioned portraits of alumni Denver Nuggets players. His momentum isn’t slowing, and with this PSYAH grant, he’ll paint a mural in the drainage canal that says “Seize the Day” as residents leave on their morning commutes and “Home Sweet Montbello” when they return. $10,000 awarded

Trust for Public Land & East Denver Community: The Trust for Public Land has been operating since 1972, working to ensure that millions of people are within a 10-minute walk from a park. With their PSYAH grant, the Trust will work with the East Denver community to upgrade New Freedom Park with “culturally relevant features and youth-led mural creation” according to a press release. New Freedom Park was created out of a vacant lot in 2012 as a result of the combined efforts of the Trust, Denver Parks and Recreation, Colorado Health Foundation, local businesses and the community. Now, the park has a shared garden plot, a soccer field, seating areas and will be enhanced more with the new features and mural in 2019. $10,000 awarded

Golden Triangle Creative District: Sitting in the middle of Denver, the Golden Triangle Creative District holds some of the city’s most influential cultural institutions, including the Denver Art Museum, the Clyfford Still Museum, the Denver Public Library and History Colorado. This next year, the district will work with local artists to create temporary artworks to help visitors find their way from one major landmark to another. The locations for each wayfinding artwork will be chosen from the 2014 Neighborhood Plan$10,000 awarded

How to Apply for Future Grants

In order to receive a PSYAH grant from Denver Arts & Venues, applicants must be one of these groups: Registered Neighborhood Association (RNO), Business Improvement District (BID), Maintenance District, business association, art or creative district or placed-based organizations (non and for-profit). If you are an individual, a religious organization, a government agency, political group, newspaper or school (among other ineligible applicants), you can still apply if you are paired with one of the verified groups. Keep in mind that proposed projects must be located outdoors, in a public space and within Denver limits.

The timeline for 2019 applications is below.

Call for proposals — September 5 – October 11, 2019
Submission deadline — 5 p.m. on October 11
Award notification — November 2019

For more information and to apply, go here

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