Metropolitan State University of Denver's off-campus Center for the Visual Arts is turning 25, and celebrating with an art-centric street fair on Friday, July 17, where you'll find work by talented Metro State students, food, musical performances and on-site gaming — and also catch the unveiling of a brand-new mural by Metro State alum Jaime Molina.
Molina, a Denver native, is an acclaimed studio and street artist who's one of many success stories to emerge from Metro. His folksy, whimsical and intricate paintings have been featured in countless gallery shows both here and across the country; his murals grace walls around town. You can see one recent piece — a collaboration with Pedro Barrios, artist and co-owner of SvperOrdinary — on the new Rebel Restaurant in RiNo; another signature work, "Slow Ride," painted on nearby Walnut Liquor, made our best murals of the season list.
The CVA is no stranger to stunning street art. The space has already hosted pieces by such internationally renowned artists as Brooklyn-based Swoon, represented in 2014 by wheat-pastes, and Shepard Fairey, whose "Bright Future" was painted just west of the entrance in 2012. Now an original by Molina will decorate the wall and recreate the CVA's painted sign.
"This piece is exciting for me for many reasons, " Molina says. "It is a great honor to paint on the CVA as an alum, being able to paint this during the current alumni show, Vault, and in conjunction with its 25th anniversary is pretty special to me. To put a piece up next to some art heavyweights like Swoon, Shepard, Evan Hecox and David Flores is pretty humbling as well."
CVA is shining the spotlight on positive role models for a younger generations of artists, notes Molina, who remembers what it was like to be in their shoes: "It's definitely an experience where I feel I've come full circle. I've been making work steadily since I graduated from Metro, so it's pretty fun to put all of that experience into this piece. I feel really connected to this mural because the personal symbols I am including are mostly based on memories I have while studying printmaking at Metro."
Molina's CVA mural tells a story that's much deeper than it might seem at first glance. "The concept of the piece is like a loose self-portrait," he explains. "The figure isn't me literally, but I'm projecting my experiences during my time at Metro to tell this character's story. These symbols and images make up the character and also the song that turns into his shadow. Just like your shadow is always with you, so is your history. It's like a tapestry of memories and experiences. It becomes the song you sing to the world."
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And thanks to the pieces Molina is creating around town, Denver's street-art scene is really singing these days. See Molina's latest work at the CVA 25th Anniversary Street Fair that runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 17; Vault will be up in the gallery through July 25.