Jim DeLutes, a local photographer and director of Denver Arts Festival, has one goal for art patrons who visit the event: “Everyone walks away with a smile.”
DeLutes has been involved with the Denver Arts Festival for each of its 23 years, starting as an artist promoting his photography and later moving into a directorial role. While he is an artist himself, the work as a director gives him an equal amount of pleasure for the opportunity to celebrate and “support Colorado artists who aren’t always represented at the larger gatherings,” as he puts it. He says the value of an art festival is the chance to “get the public interested in following and perhaps collecting an artist.” Festivals are the perfect setting to interact with the art and the artist simultaneously. It’s always a treat to engage with the creator, discuss the process, learn about a medium or technique or just appreciate the art together.
The 2022 Denver Arts Festival will take place during Memorial Day weekend on Saturday, May 28, through Sunday, May 29, and it’s part of the many festivities in the city planned to kick off the summer. The festival will be held on Conservatory Green in the Central Park area of the Northfield neighborhood, formerly Stapleton, just northeast of downtown. Having hosted the gathering in Central Park for the past six years, DeLutes appreciates all the benefits of the location. “It’s close to downtown Denver, not a terrible drive and, perhaps most appealing, there is ample free parking.” Anyone who’s driven around downtown streets on big weekends, endlessly looking for an open meter, will appreciate the ease of getting in and out of the Denver Arts Festival.
The Central Park area also affords space for additional festival events, which this year will include a wine tasting hosted by La Crema Winery. The “pop-up wine tasting salon” will offer an interactive and educational wine experience, as well as a nearby beer and wine tent to purchase beverages. Because event organizers can fence in the space at Central Park, people are free to “sip wine as they browse art and speak with artists.” La Crema is a new sponsor this year, and the winery was also recently the official preferred wine at the Kentucky Derby, as well as the 2022 Arnold Palmer Golf Invitational. The Denver Arts Festival is La Crema’s only Colorado event this year, so DeLutes takes it as a sign that “we’ve arrived.”
The Denver Arts Festival will feature 150 booths this year, mostly supporting Colorado artists, but also including numerous national artists who are happy to visit the area to sell some art and perhaps be tourists as well. That size of the festival is optimal in DeLutes’ view because “it’s doable for people to walk the entire area,” revisiting favorite booths numerous times. A huge diversity of art forms is available across multiple mediums, so visitors can expect to find far more than simply landscape oil paintings. Acrylic and oil paintings do abound at the arts festival, but the range is vast for a smaller event. The show will feature furniture art, metal works, jewelry, leather and fibers and more. A healthy collection of photographers will be there, as well as clay and ceramic artists. Sculptors and glass artists round out the show, ensuring fans of all media will find something to enjoy. Previews of the featured artists are available on the festival’s website.
Visitors will also be able to enjoy live music with a stage located “smack in the middle of the show.” In organizing the event, DeLutes likes the music being close and connected to the art, providing an atmosphere for the entire show. That way they keep the ambiance geared toward the art, simultaneously featuring a form of art on the stage. Hosting the event during Memorial Day, event organizers always feature a military band. This year’s jazz ensemble will be The 4th Infantry Division Jazz Combo from Fort Carson, “performing a wide variety of jazz standards and original compositions.” The Wendy Woo Band and the Dotsero Band will also perform. Performance times are listed on the website.
The Denver Arts Festival is open to everyone, and the event will host a kids zone that is specifically art-focused. “Gallery on the Go,” a mobile art party organization, will provide budding young artists ways to practice their craft. So, rather than simply setting up a bouncy castle, festival organizers offer the chance for kids to actually be interactive with art. They can visit booths with their parents and then head to the kids zone to try and mimic the artists, or explore their own original vision. With an opportunity like this, DeLutes recalls artists telling him, “Kids will come by the booth and then return later to share with the artists their version.” He is excited about the youth-oriented feature because “with so many schools unfortunately dropping arts programs, it’s important to provide opportunities for kids to engage with and appreciate the arts.”
The Denver Arts Festival is a two-day affair, open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 28, and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 29. Conservatory Green in Central Park is just north of Northfield Boulevard, located near the Interstate 70-270 connection, and it is easily accessible from north Quebec Street.