Something's brewing in RiNo. The River North Art District has seen a lot of change lately, including a massive new mural just created in the corridor between Walnut Street and Brighton Boulevard on 38th Avenue.
Earlier this year, Blue Moon Brewing Company opened its taproom at 3750 Chestnut Place, an industrial, graffiti-covered part of town. To help make the new build blend in with its surroundings, Blue Moon used plenty of street art, including a trio of murals that landed on our list of the 25 best murals in 2016. But the company wanted to go further, and decided to sponsor a project that the art district had been considering for a while: a renewal of the 38th Avenue corridor heading under the train tracks.
Nomad, an artist who specializes in light design, got together with street artists Pat Milbery, Pat McKinney and Jason Graves, and they came up with a design that reflects the architecture of the area. The artists found a beautiful arabesque pattern on railings that date from the 1910s in the 38th Avenue Underpass; the metal fence divides the walking path from the road.
To make the area safer, Nomad will be doing a lighting project in the underpass so that people can safely pass through. Lighting is the only thing the artists are allowed to add to the underpass itself, which is technically Union Pacific property.
But the corridor gave the artists plenty to work with — and there were plenty of people from the community who came out to help last weekend.
RiNo godfather Tracy Weil was there on behalf of the art district. "This is probably one of the most dangerous underpasses in the city," Weil says. "One of our boardmembers, Jonathan Power, who owns the Populist, was actually hurt riding his bike down here. It kind of alerted us. We already knew it was a wreck, but we wanted to help, and so we applied for a grant from the city for the PS You Are Here program.
"As an arts district, we know the infrastructure of the area," he adds. "It's kind of rough around the edges; that's why we love it and live here. But we want people to be safe."
Blue Moon gave the district the rest of the money it needed to do the project. "We're just thrilled to be a part of the neighborhood," says Blue Moon spokeswoman Gloria Shoch. "It's so important to give back to the community where our employees work, where our brewers work and live, and to really bring some color and vibrancy to the area. Because that really is the DNA of RiNo: This is an artistic movement that has been going on for a while. It's fun to be able to engage the community with these efforts to make this a more attractive space."
Over 100 volunteers signed on to help with the project last weekend. It's a rare treat to be able to help an artist paint a piece, and the trio of Milbery, McKinney and Graves made the massive project fun. And if you weren't able to wield a brush last weekend, it's not too late: The crew will be painting again on Saturday, December 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and volunteers are definitely needed.
And there's more brewing in RiNo. To further its support of the community, the project has adopted #SomethingsBrewingRiNo, a hashtag that gives back: Every time you use it on social media during December, Blue Moon will contribute another dollar to a fund for the next street-art project in the neighborhood.
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