RiNo Art District Launches Summer Artist In Residence Program

As public gatherings become safer and more commonplace, Denver’s art districts have their sights set on reinvigorating First Fridays. For over a year, public gatherings for art were either gone, or their access severely limited. Each art district took a different approach to investing in fresh offerings from local creatives. For RiNo Art District, newness seems to be a running theme.

RiNo Art District recently announced their “No Vacancy” artist in residence program in partnership with Menalto Development. “No Vacancy” provides an opportunity for artists to breathe life back into the community through the shared experience of consuming art. 

“No Vacancy” takes place in a converted 10,000-square-foot warehouse at 3722 Chestnut Place. The warehouse contains temporary studio spaces for artist creation and collaboration. RiNo Art District chose 16 artists to take part in the program. Each artist has a distinct style and story. Mediums include sculpture, performance, mixed media and more. 

Each resident artist will receive a $2,500 stipend for participation in ‘No Vacancy’. Additionally, they have the freedom to sell or exhibit pieces created in the warehouse as they wish. The program runs through September.

“As a result of this unique partnership with Menalto Development, we’re able to not only bring new life to this warehouse and provide much-needed space for local artists to create, we will hopefully help broaden the public’s idea of the kinds of art they can find in RiNo Art District,” said Tracy Weil, executive director of RiNo Art District.

Every month beginning in June, ‘No Vacancy’ artists showcase their work on First Fridays. Here’s a look at the first three artists to showcase their work in the program.

Johnny Draco, Visual Designer 

RiNo Art District, No Vacancy, First Fridays, Ellie Sullum

Photo by Brittni Bell

Johnny Draco is a self-taught visual artist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is currently based in Denver. He embraces bold colors and lines to create vibrant characters and landscapes. In his previous work for Kidrobot, Johnny brought children’s toys to life with pops of color and memorable characters. He also paints murals around Denver.

Johnny Draco, No Vacancy, RiNo, First Fridays, Ellie Sullum

Photo by Johnny Draco 

Now, Draco’s kept the bold lines and left a lot of the color behind. His newest series of paintings is a mostly abstract black and white collection. The subjects are animal-like creatures with fluid, curved outlines and symmetrical frames. His art consistently evokes feelings of curiosity and wonder. His most recent collection displays a new level of maturity. “No Vacancy” provides Draco an opportunity to experiment along the spectrum from whimsy to sophistication. 
Instagram: @johnnydraco_

Shadow, Photographer

Shadow, Shadows Gather, RiNo Art District, No Vacancy, Ellie Sullum

Photo Courtesy of Shadow

Shadow is a photographer based in Denver. Shadows Gather is her ongoing photography project. She focuses on capturing fringe culture in nightlife. From drag artists, punks to scene folks and more, Shadow highlights people from the underground while in their element. Her project is a celebration of underground culture in Denver. It’s also a running document of the changes affecting her community as Denver evolves. She often pairs a Fuji Instax Neo Classic Mini with lighting from an iPhone flashlight to bring instant photos to life. 

Shadow, Shadows Gather, No Vacancy, Ellie Sullum

Photo by Shadows Gather

Often published with a short caption for context, Shadow’s instant photos weave together a larger narrative. Shadows Gather showcases unique moments. She captures drag artists performing their routine circuit. She photographs local musicians performing for the first time in over a year. Shadow snaps the best moments of people who are thriving in their community. To the larger audience who may not be a part of the underground scene, Shadow’s photos might feel like both a portal to a different world, and a mirror. Her best pictures effortlessly capture the most relatable emotions. Most anyone can connect to the love, friendship, apprehension, loneliness, excitement and pure happiness expressed by her subjects. In this way, Shadow’s Gather creates an opportunity for worlds to collide. 

Instagram: @shadows.gather

PS.Design, Branding, Design and Mural Art

PS Design, RiNo, No Vacancy, Ellie Sullum

Photo Courtesy of PS.Design

PS.Design is a boutique branding and design agency located in RiNo. Alongside their branding work, PS.Design creates experimental art and paints murals all over the city. For them, no idea is really off the table, so long as it makes a splash. The artists who makeup PS.Design use a style that is very conscious of space and shapes — it is both geometric and natural. Often, the two types of shapes overlap, creating gorgeous interpretations of natural landscapes. 

PS.Design, No Vacancy, First Fridays, Ellie Sullum

Photo by PS.Design

Instagram: @psdotdesign

During their residence with “No Vacancy” all three featured artists have the opportunity to collaborate with one another. Between each artists exist exciting contrasts in medium and subject matter. Thus, any cross-pollination of ideas might bring some unexpected pieces to exhibition. 

You can find more info about “No Vacancy” and RiNo Art District here.