Take an Urban Art Trek Through Denver on the Race/High Block-Walk

Thomas Schärfenberg's "Physical Pixels" play hide-and-seek in a Denver alley.
Thomas Schärfenberg's "Physical Pixels" play hide-and-seek in a Denver alley.
All photos by Thomas Scharfenberg

Denver artist Thomas Scharfenberg believes art should be part of the landscape, not the other way around. Scharfenberg, whose visual world often leads him beyond gallery walls and into the outdoors, thinks outside of the box as he spreads what he calls “ground constellations” and “physical pixels” — painted rocks, bricks, blocks of wood and other ordinary objects — around  the urban landscape.

Take an Urban Art Trek Through Denver on the Race/High Block-Walk
Take an Urban Art Trek Through Denver on the Race/High Block-Walk

For his latest project, the Race/High Block-Walk, Scharfenberg created a new place-making terminology, Alternate Addresses, consisting of textured wood blocks encased in mistinted paints and found objects — crushed glass, sand, seeds, dust and shavings — that signify a new system of place-naming. “Usually these markers are made from ‘physical pixels’ pinned to street posts,” he writes. “Imagine a situation in which you describe your house number as ‘glass-coated purple diamond’ instead of 4717."

Take an Urban Art Trek Through Denver on the Race/High Block-Walk
Take an Urban Art Trek Through Denver on the Race/High Block-Walk

To complete the project, Scharfenberg tacked the works to telephone poles and tucked them into other nooks and crannies along a continuous thirty-block stretch of the alley between Race and High streets, from 11th Avenue in Cheesman Park to 40th Avenue near Denver’s northern border in the Elyria/Swansea neighborhood, where he lives. “In Alternate Addresses, the word 'address' is partially used in reference to square-grid, addressing, mapping, street-naming systems," he explains. "Basically, the the color-textured blocks pinned to telephone poles can become place-markers and somewhat of an alternative to standard address alphanumeric systems.”

Take an Urban Art Trek Through Denver on the Race/High Block-Walk
Take an Urban Art Trek Through Denver on the Race/High Block-Walk

The public is invited to explore the route in search of more than 200 of the markers at any time, day or night; Scharfenberg says any form of documentation is welcome on his Alternate Addresses and Race/High Block-Walk Facebook pages

Take an Urban Art Trek Through Denver on the Race/High Block-Walk
Take an Urban Art Trek Through Denver on the Race/High Block-Walk
Take an Urban Art Trek Through Denver on the Race/High Block-Walk
Take an Urban Art Trek Through Denver on the Race/High Block-Walk
Take an Urban Art Trek Through Denver on the Race/High Block-Walk

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