“It’s bigger than ever," says creator Robin Munro. "We’ve gained about 50 percent more space, all the way up past the Walnut Room. We have the alley but a lot of wall space on the streets, too. A lot of businesses have been reaching out to us. It’s a cool thing going on; it’s really more than ever an effort of the entire community."
Munro's "Art Alley" won a 2014 Mayor's Design Award for the influence it has had not just in RiNo, but the entire city. “I wanted a platform for everyone to shine," Munro says. "Up-and-coming artists and national artists and well-established artists. It’s definitely transformed the neighborhood quite a bit. Made it feel more appealing for people. There's a lot more foot traffic.”
“This year is more of a community effort,” Munro continues. “We created a board of members: myself, Jon Lamb, Ken Wolf and two more potential members.” This board has taken a detailed survey of the walls in the area to come up with the festival's overall plan.
"We start the curation process tomorrow," says Munro. "It's going to be broken up into mapped-out spaces. We are being a lot more careful with who we place, and where we place them. Making sure that the property and business owners know. Until we completely curate it, everything is still kind of floating right now.”
Colorado Crush held a model search earlier this month on Facebook to find three models who will be immortalized as street-art muses for the festival, as well as other walls around the city where Munro has projects. Contemporary Expressions will photograph the winning models, working closely with Munro to create an entire piece of content from scratch. "Both the model and the artist gain so much from the experience — it puts them out there," he explains. "It's great having that access to the amount of references with a model and photographer. It’s a networking thing, too: You get to bring a vision to life.”
Munro will be painting at Colorado Crush, as well as later this fall at El Charrito, Horseshoe Lounge, and HeadDress Salon. Does he miss the murals he's painted at past festivals? “It was like that when I first started doing this, but no, not anymore," Munro says. "It’s always a chance to do better. Yeah, you may have lost a piece, but you get another blank canvas, a new chance to create.” Jon Lamb of Like Minded Productions will also be back at Colorado Crush, bringing in Liquitex, the paint company that sponsored the earlier NAMTA mural project this year.
Over the years, Munro has become an outdoor art gallery curator, with a growing catalog of walls, including three buildings in the Art District on Santa Fe. In addition to bringing back Colorado Crush, next month he'll open an affordable art-supply store. "We’re getting ready to open our own supply store, at 1405 Ogden Street, beginning of September," Munro says. "We’ll just be selling mostly spray paint, but we also want to have a space we can showcase artists locally, nationally, internationally. There's a wall behind it we can curate for artists as well.
"We’ll create prints through Like Minded Productions," he says, adding that "Ken Wolf is the main property owner. If it weren’t for him, this probably would not have happened.”
Eventually, Munro has a dream of creating a huge, multi-media facility where kids can develop artistic talents and learn skills in everything from gardening to graphic design. Learn more about Munro and the Colorado Crush 2015 activities here. And keep reading to see the winners of the Model Search for Colorado Crush 2015:
"If you don't know any good people, be one," says Hosnah Safi. At 23, she founded her own non-profit, Sweet Souls, an empowerment group that shows "the young women of today not to let typical social taboos control your life, behavior, or your future." Today she's also the vice chair of the IMPACT, a non-profit whose goal is to feed the homeless.
"I believe nothing is off limits in life," says 24-year-old Alyssa Dunlap, a graphic designer. "I plan to be awake and truly alive all my 100 years and refuse to conform to societal norms and expectations of the mundane. Life is my canvas and I plan on leaving nothing blank."
The third model winner is 26-year-old Cecily Leora, a fashion designer, dancer and yoga instructor who was born in Colorado Springs. "Discover, accept, and thrive within your truest self," Leora hopes to inspire young girls to,"waste no time trying to change what is, instead use that time for growth."
Keep reading for more photos of the 2014 Colorado Crush.
Lindsey Bartlett is a Denver native, writer, photographer, and lover of street art. Creep it real on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.