While local businesses and restaurants have had to get creative in order to comply with health requirements, Denver Central Market has thought far outside the box. The food hall located in RiNo has partnered with CRUSH Walls in order to spruce up the dining area while also encouraging physical distancing. Artists from CRUSH have each painted various tables in the outdoor dining area — leaving the space colorful and inviting.
Created by Denver artist Robin Munro, CRUSH Walls is an annual mural celebration that has been gracing the streets of RiNo for eleven years. This year’s lineup features around 100 talented muralists. The artwork created from past CRUSH festivals have been nothing short of captivating. While this year’s festival is scheduled for September 14 through the 20 — you can catch a sneak peek of the artists’ work at Denver Central Market.
Twenty-four artists have come together to each paint a different table. The intention is to encourage visitors to physically distance while dining. Denver Central Market management hopes that the art will draw diners to sit safely apart from one another. The tables are also set to be sold at auction this coming winter.
Denver artist Mike Graves has been painting with CRUSH for eight years. Graves is well known for adorning the streets of Denver with over-the-top cartoons. His characters are whimsical and easily take up the space he works on. He often designs his art with his kids in mind — by thinking of characters that will make them laugh. Graves did not stray from this usual style while designing his table art.
“I just wanted something that wrapped over the seats,” Graves said. “So that’s why I painted the big face.”
Each of the tables is interactive — featuring QR codes in which guests can order drinks, listen to music playlists created by the artists and browse the artists’ websites. The artists involved were compensated through RiNo Gives Back — an initiative by the RiNo Art District in which local businesses can donate portions of their sales to support local art and infrastructure.
Lio Bumba is a local artist who designed his table with a special intention in mind. His table has elements of nature and features colorful leaves, snakes and forest creatures. He cites the piece as a tribute to the Amazons — and is donating proceeds from the table towards Amazon conservation funds.
“It was rejuvenating being back around other artists and even meeting artists I’ve been admiring from afar on social media,” Bumba said. “I think these kinds of community initiatives will go a long way to helping us, as a community, regain a sense of normalcy.”
The tables are each sanitized thoroughly after each use — so visitors can rest assured the outdoor experience is safe. Next time you’re looking for a spot to grab a bite or a drink — consider stopping by Denver Central Market to view the art for yourself and pick out your favorite table. However, if you prefer to stay home, a complete collection of the art is available to view online too.
Denver Central Market is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day of the week. It is located at 2669 Larimer Street.
The current list of participating artists is: AJ Davis, Romelle Thinks, Sam Turner, Jacqueline Colello, Ashley Joon, Miss Meeg, Gina Ilczyszyn, Jher 451, Koko Bayer, Scot Lefavor, Chris Haven, Olive Moya, Markham Maes, Lio Bumba, Just, Rube Zilla, Taylor Herzog, Kaitlin Ziesmer, Mike Graves and Chelsea Lewinski.
All photography by Barbara Urzua