Rob Bell and John McCaskill of Derailed Ink, a small local t-shirt screen-printing business that's had a fair amount of success with its sports-related tees, don't have a problem with being small. It's the pressure of big business that they don't like. "We got tired of corporate entities dictating what we made and how we did business," McCaskill says. Working in the fertile grounds of the Wazee Union artist studios in RiNo, they hatched an idea for a well-traveled place where they could more formally show off their own work, as well as that of their WU neighbors and friends.
At the same time, the Meadowlark bar's Loy Merck, McCaskill continues, "was looking for something like a gallery, but more interactive, something not as dry as a gallery," to fill an empty part of the Meadowlark complex. They talked, and like it was meant to be, MegaFauna, a little guy with a big name, was born. "We created a soap box for artists to come in and show their work, almost like a co-op. But, as you might know, artists don't always manage co-ops very well. So I'm more of a business guy, and I'm looking forward to seeing if I can grow a small T-shirt company, add more artists and spin it all out into something that will demonstrate that Denver has quality artists. We are definitely not an art gallery, and we are definitely not a typical retail store. But we hope people will just be happy to have a place where they can come and find quality things that are local that they can actually afford to buy."
According to McCaskill, MegaFauna will serve as more than a platform for emerging artists and microbusinesses. The store will also host Wednesday workshops beginning in June, teaching t-shirt screen-printing techniques and the like, and plans to partner with the neighboring Flobots Community Collective in its outreach for at-risk teens in the surrounding community. And, because it's just down the street, and it gives off that well-caffeinated can-do vibe, McCaskill also foresees some kind of interrelationship between MegaFauna and Noah Price's community-minded Crema Coffee House.
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MegaFauna is celebrating its weekend grand opening beginning today, above the Meadowlark at 2701 Larimer Street; look for a diverse blend of art, fashion and wares from Shitty Kitten, Like Minded Productions, Denver Koolerado by 2Kool, Vintage Renewal, Havea Lolo, Heather Howard Vintage, Dirty Girl Soap Company, Jammy Packs and many others. On Sunday, the Meadowlark will co-host a MegaFauna FunDay SunDay from 4 to 10 p.m. with ten DJs, food and entertainment. MegaFauna is open daily; visit the website for information.