Denver street art never sleeps, but it does hibernate during the winter. Now that spring is here, you can see new murals all over town — just in time for the International Art Materials Association convention at the Colorado Convention Center that opens today and runs through April 17. Some of these pieces were finished in the dead of winter, others are works in progress; some were painted by internationally acclaimed artists, others by local artists working anonymously. Here are our ten best street-art pieces of the season.
Joseph Martinez, Pedro Barrios and Jaime Molina
3729 Walnut Street
The Palabros — aka Jaime Molina, Joseph Martinez and Pedro Barrios — are at it again. This trio of artists has collaborated on some dope, imaginative street art in the Mile High City before, including a favorite on the Cherry Creek Bike Path near REI, at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte. New Belgium sponsored the Palabros’ newest piece, located on the north-facing wall of Walnut Liquors in RiNo. The work is inspired by the “couch bike” on New Belgium’s Slow Ride beer label, but in true Palabros fashion, the artists have added their own creative touches, even modifying and making the waves of blue in the background more whimsical halfway through the process. Their work never fails to tell a story, and this one blends seamlessly into the industrial yet artistic area where Walnut Liquors is located.
2600 block of the alley between Larimer and Walnut streets
Argentine artist Mariano Padilla created this mural in the cold of late January, but the result is very hot: an eccentric, complex, black-and-white arabesque. The piece replaced a mural that Mad Man Art and Jake Merten from Colorado Crush had created last summer — but one of the best aspects of this alley-art gallery is its ever-changing nature. The art here is always in flux and always beautiful, thanks to the international artists who find a home for their work on this very hidden, very casual local canvas.
1866 South Broadway
Victoriano Rivera is a young master of portraiture who has elevated some of the most coveted spots in Denver using paint and his twisted artistic vision. His latest mural, painted on the north-facing wall of Regal Antiques on South Broadway, juxtaposes an “Eve”-esque figure and her snake with a “Repent” Christian-propaganda billboard overhead. This picture captures Denver’s artistic spirit in a single image, balancing the practical with the borderline inappropriate and wildly imaginative.
2700 block of the alley between Larimer and Walnut streets
Mike Graves, another artist painting for the NAMTA mural project, created this badass new piece in RiNo. The signature of Graves’s style is his cartoony yet abrasive boundary-pushing characters. You can see more of his work all over this area, including two murals at Crema Coffeehouse.
Michael Ortiz and Jonathan Lamb
2641 Walnut Street
The latest “graffuturistic” mural by Michael Ortiz and Jonathan Lamb of Like Minded Productions is a trip; it looks more like a portal into another dimension than the east-facing exterior wall of the Diablo Media office in River North. Ortiz and Lamb created this piece for the International Art Materials Association (NAMTA), which is holding its convention in Denver this week. In advance of that gathering, Judd Meininger of Meininger Art Supply hooked up local artists with Liquitex and ColArt, which sponsored numerous murals in sanctioned locations around town.
2732 Larimer Street
Jeremy Burns has been a studio artist for the past decade; he began painting large-scale murals over a year ago, following a car accident that seriously injured his right shoulder. “Larimer Boy and Girl” is his largest to date. To absorb the full, visceral glory of this giant optical illusion, move quickly past it in either direction along Larimer; the building looks like it’s been dipped in turquoise paint as the fragmented boy and girl figures climb their way up the metal faces on both the warehouse’s north and south sides. Keep your eye out for more of Burns’s characters hidden around the city.
2800 block of the alley between Larimer and Walnut streets
Mario Zoots was one of our 100 Colorado Creatives in 2014, and he’s received national praise for his works in publications like Juxtapoz. Kevin Hennessy has collaborated with Zoots in the past, creating a collage mural for 3121 East Colfax Avenue that has since been painted over; they worked together again on another mural brought to us by the NAMTA project. “It’s stream-of-consciousness,” Zoots says of their creative collaboration. “We didn’t draft or plan it out, really; we just like to see where it takes us.”
Their collaboration is harmonious, as evidenced by the bricolage of the interactive blue and green elements. The text and tattoo-esque details are painted by Hennessy, while the bizarre character faces and colorful explosions are by Zoots. And the three cartoon characters were painted with the help of artist Mike Weiss. Peg-Leg Pete and Quick Draw McGraw are easy to spot, but finding the third character requires a street-art scavenger hunt.
1399 35th Street
Tracy Weil is not only an artist, he’s an artistic visionary who co-founded the RiNo arts district ten years ago — and he’s now creating an enormous homage to that beloved neighborhood. Weil’s plan calls for the finished piece to be approximately 125 feet long by 18 feet high; it will take over the concrete canvas/walls of the Exdo Event Center. Weil has even hinted about a community painting day when volunteers can help finish the mural.
Dread and Zehbs
3200 Larimer Street
Dread and Zehbs are the masterminds behind the colorful mural on the Infinite Monkey Theorem’s new wine truck. A veteran street artist who specializes in portraits and helps find opportunities for other street artists in the community, Dread is also the creator of Colorado Crush, the largest street-art event of the year, which happens each summer. Zehbs and Dread created these colorful monkeys for a TEDxTalk in RiNo on April 13. Check out the piece for yourself while sipping some wine on Infinite Monkey’s patio.
2700 Larimer Street
Gamma Acosta, the artist who got his start on the streets of Longmont, killed it this past weekend when he created the live CycLyric mural at Cold Crush just in time for a performance by DJ MU$A. Gamma designed the piece, which is more abstract than his past portraits, to look like an aerial view of a packed bar and dance floor.