RiNo is filled with easily accessible street art. A trip to the trendy neighborhood will guarantee a smattering of murals and graffiti along the way. But the opportunities to purchase art or experience different mediums outside of street art are more limited, at least in comparison to other creative districts in the city like the Art District on Santa Fe. Which is why The Ramble Hotel decided to open a pop-up gallery in the parking lot by Cart Driver to offer a free space for local artists to showcase and sell their work. It’s called The Art Can and can be found at 25th and Larimer Streets inside of a shipping container.
Every few weeks until October 12, The Art Can will have a different artist resident. Sure, a shipping container isn’t a huge space. But, it does offer enough room for a single artist (or maybe two) who doesn’t work with monumentally-sized materials and it makes for an intimate setting for other people to interact with the resident artist. Interaction and accessibility are cornerstones of this gallery, so it will only be open on Friday and Saturday nights from 5 to 10 p.m. when foot traffic in that area of RiNo is at a climax. The artists will always be in attendance (and possibly working on something) during these hours.
Ryan Diggins, the founder of The Ramble, explained, “I’m hoping this quirky little gallery proves to be a sustainable model for our exhibiting artists, while also bringing some fresh cultural energy to 25th and Larimer.”
When it opened, the first four residencies were already decided — Jack Ludlam from July 19 to August 10, Lindee Zimmer from August 16 to 31, Pedro Barrios and Jaime Molina from September 6 to 22 and Andi Todaro from September 27 to October 12. Artists who are interested in future residencies should keep an eye out on this page for calls for entry.
This first lineup offers an excellent mixture of established neighborhood artists with artists who have operated mostly outside of RiNo so far. Zimmer’s enormous mural on the Broadway side of The Ramble has acted as a totem or guardian of RiNo since she painted it at last year’s street art festival CRUSH WALLS. Her work is also found inside the new Mission Ballroom concert venue on Brighton Boulevard. And to start The Art Can off in the same spirit as the rest of the neighborhood, Zimmer spray painted the exterior with a geometric black and white mural. The inspiration for her design came from the camouflage Dazzle ships of World War I.
Ludlam, on the other hand, is a photographer who hasn’t found a good foothold in RiNo yet. Aside from two shows at the former Svperordinary Gallery at The Source, he has shown in various other districts on First Fridays. His stark imagery highlights the working class, from their calloused hands to the tools of their trades. Each photograph is realized in an almost surreal clarity. With all the colorful murals and graphic graffiti in RiNo, it’s certainly unusual to come across photographs like Ludlam’s, which certainly brings some “fresh cultural energy” as Diggins hopes for.
The next two residencies are just as varied as the others. During this year’s CRUSH (and for a few weeks after), public art duo Barrios and Molina will take over The Art Can. Barrios and Molina are like two peas in a pod when it comes to making art, especially murals, in and around Denver. So far, they’ve completed over two dozen murals in Colorado together and are debuting large sculptures at RiNo Park soon. Their color choices always verge on the natural side, distinguishing their work from so much other saccharine-colored street art. Their residency in The Art Can will feature “a special CRUSH activation from September 2 to 5” according to the press release.
Todaro will bring us into the autumn months with a variety of work in different mediums — from video to jewelry to sculptures and more. She’s painted a mural for Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, has a dedicated artist room at The Queen Anne Bed and Breakfast and recently showcased The Pink Tube of Goo at Understudy in downtown Denver. A few years ago, she co-created a tarot card deck called The Fountain Tarot with local artist Jonathan Saiz and writer Jason Gruhl. Her Art Can residency will be an experience as much as an exhibit. “Since this is such a public and experimental space, I want people to leave understanding a little bit more of what the life of and the work of an artist actually looks like,” said Todaro.
The Art Can opened on July 19 and is scheduled through October 12. It will be open only on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m. More announcements about artists will be forthcoming.