Crush Walls 2020 Is Happening Despite COVID-19 Struggles

Miss Meeg at Crush Walls.
Miss Meeg at Crush Walls. Kenzie Bruce
For the past eleven years, Crush Walls has brought street art to the RiNo Art District, turning the surrounding communities into hotbeds of murals.

While Denver's festival scene has been obliterated by COVID-19, Crush Walls will still take over thirty blocks in and around RiNo from September 14 through September 20. Organizers of the event, who received more than 730 applications, plan to include at least a hundred artists working together on forty murals and activations, everyone from Anthony Garcia Jr. to Alicia Cardenas, Ashley Joon, Thomas "Detour" Evans, Jodie Herrera, Jolt, the Ladies Fancywork Society, Miss Meeg and more. 

“It’s all about collaboration this year, and we have organized several artist teams,” explains Crush Walls founder Robin Munro.

When the call for artists went out, nobody could have foreseen the COVID-19 pandemic hitting Denver.

“It was a very different world when we put out the first call for entries for the 2020 Crush Walls,” notes Tracy Weil, RiNo Art District executive director, in the event announcement. “The COVID-19 crisis started to hit in mid-March. As hundreds of applications poured in, we really weren’t sure how things would look this year and what measures we would have to take to put on our event.”

While Crush Walls will go on, it's going to be smaller than in previous years. Sponsorship is down, as some of the businesses that typically back the festival are struggling to get by themselves. Nonetheless, all artists will be paid, and if the organization can raise more money, additional muralists may be brought on.

Some of the big parties from past editions will be missing this year, though; artist panels, mural tours and youth activities will largely move online. Any in-person events will have strict social distancing guidelines in place, and  artists will be provided with safe environments in which to paint.

According to Munro, many artists plan to address the Black Lives Matter protests, which have already inspired multiple murals memorializing George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other victims of racist police violence around town.

Event company Two Parts is taking over the production and online components of the festival and will host self-guided walking tours, online content and more.

For a full list of participating artists, go to the Crush Walls website
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris