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Director Maruca Salazar never really thought of the Museo de las Américas, her Latino-culture stronghold that holds everything from folk art to fine art, as a place for street art — at least not until a group of local graffiti artists met with her a couple of years ago. They’d all grown up on Denver’s west side, and they wanted to know why there was no graf art in the Museo. Salazar, with her rootsy background, admitted that she wasn’t quite sure. “Are you afraid?” they asked. “Can we challenge you?”
“Well, I wanted to be challenged,” Salazar says today, and the results of that long-ago conversation are now on view in Outside in 303, a collaborative transformation of the Museo’s galleries by street writers Jack Avila, Javier Fidelis Flores, “Kans 89,” Josiah Lopez, Victo-riano Rivera, Gabriel Salazar and Mario Zoots. “I’m trying to experiment with innovative ideas. I never considered the Museo to be a contemporary venue — it’s a community museum,” Salazar explains. “This is totally a new way to try to bring that age group, which is so difficult and so evasive, into the Museo.
"I thought we could help them understand the process of dealing in a museum format, but they adjusted really well,” she adds.”They are all very, very sharp in terms of their focus. Their pieces are very well thought out.” See for yourself at the opening reception for Outside in 303, from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight at the Museo, 861 Santa Fe Drive. The installation will stay up through September 21, and in conjunction with the show, the venue will host everything from a DJ battle to a city-backed community mural project. For more information, visit museo.org or call 303-571-4401.