First Friday Denver Art Walk: Santa Fe, Cherry Creek and More | Westword

All the First Friday Art Shows to Catch This Weekend

An artsy holiday weekend includes the return of the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, free art-walking in Denver and Colorado Springs and elevated street art at Alto Gallery.
Darin Balaban, "They played 90s rave music at the wine bar,“ 2024, acrylic on wood panel.
Darin Balaban, "They played 90s rave music at the wine bar,“ 2024, acrylic on wood panel. Darin Balaban
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After a burst of Fourth of July fireworks, First Friday will usher in a weekend exploding with art shows and events.

Art fests abound, from Cherry Creek North to the fresh air in Breckenridge; Old South Pearl Street is reviving its First Friday with new attractions; and galleries from Denver to Colorado Springs will celebrate their traditional free art-walk openings.

Take it all in at these special events:
A ceramic teapot by Kristin Gruenberger.
Kristin Gruenberger
41st Annual Breckenridge July Art Festival
Main Street Station, Breckenridge
Through Saturday, July 6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Instead of eating off the grill and watching fireworks, why not let an explosion of fresh art keep you busy over July Fourth weekend? One of the oldest outdoor summer art fests hosted by Mountain Art Festivals, this one in Breckenridge has all the credentials, and that doesn’t even include the beauty of the scenic mountain town itself. The nationally ranked juried art show showcases artists from Colorado and nationwide working in thirteen categories. Breck doesn’t pop off fireworks on the Fourth, but the fest also opens that day, with lots of family activities, including a parade and an evening performance by the National Repertory Orchestra.
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Joseph Bradley, “Always Room at the Table,” archival print made with saturated archival inks on paper.
Joseph Bradley, Cherry Arts
2024 Cherry Creek Arts Festival
Second Avenue from Clayton Street to Adams Street, and between Second and Third avenues from Detroit Street to Adams Street, Cherry Creek North
Friday, July 5, and Saturday, July 6, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, July 7, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; (accessibility hour, 9 to 10 a.m. on Friday only)
The 33rd annual Cherry Creek Arts Festival needs no introduction. If you know, you know. It’s always a little bit different, yet immaculately the same: a well-run urban art adventure in the tony streets of Cherry Creek North, where eateries and shops abound. This year, 255 meticulously juried artists — chosen from a field of nearly 2,000 — will come from all over the nation, bringing work in a variety of styles, themes and mediums. In 2024, that includes five emerging artists and twenty returning award winners from 2023. Along with the wealth of art to see, the fest offers family-friendly art activities, live music, immersive-art experiences, and food and drink. And it’s free to come and go as you please, unless you choose the VIP option. Where to start? Check out the festival map here.
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Darin Balaban, "They played 90s rave music at the wine bar,“ 2024, acrylic on wood panel.
Darin Balaban
Street Dialogue: Devin Urioste, Paul Lukes and Darin Balaban
Alto Gallery, RiNo ArtPark, 1900 35th Street, Suite B
Friday, July 5, through July 27
Opening Reception: Friday, July 5, 6 to 10 p.m.
The good folks from the Birdseed Collective, who run Alto Gallery at the RiNo ArtPark, always have an ear to the street as they curate new shows. Street Dialogue — from RedLine resident artist Devin Urioste, graphic designer and artist Paul Lukes, and abstract painter and muralist Darin Balaban — fits right into that groove. The trio’s mixed-media group exhibition has a street-culture vibe with roots in hip-hop, graffiti and skateboard lifestyles that’s been tweaked ever so lightly by a strong wave of sophistication and world awareness that goes beyond the acts of tagging, rapping or carving corners. As Lukes puts it in his statement, it’s “street dialogue brought into the gallery.”
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Elena Gunderson, “Love & Hotdogs.”
Elena Gunderson
Elena Gunderson (aka Thunderson), Just One Good Day
Side Show Studio Denver, 747 Santa Fe Drive
Friday, July 5, through July 26
Opening Reception: Friday, July 5, 6 p.m.
Closing Reception: Friday, July 26, 6 p.m.
It’s always a good day when Elena Gunderson’s over-the-top lowbrow work hits the walls for a Day-Glo-colored show. This one is no different. Gunderson, a lowbrow master, brings out some of her latest: a nude lying on a bed of hot dogs, a smiley-face portrait comprised of a pickle and two olives speared on toothpicks, and a magnificent unicorn with a fast-food luncheon — burger and fries with the works — speared on its horn, to mention a few. This stuff provides the kind of belly laughs that will keep the world’s troubles at bay, at least for a few minutes.

Featured Artists: Babe Walls Denver
Abstract Denver Santa Fe, 742 Santa Fe Drive
Opening Reception: Friday, July 5, 6 to 11 p.m.
Abstract Denver’s store in the Art District on Santa Fe joins in with First Friday festivities with a show of works by the mural-making women and nonbinary street artists of Babe Walls. They do on occasion bring their gorgeous work down to a level that allows for gallery exhibitions, with the extra benefit of affordable prices, and that makes everyone — artists, venues and buyers alike — happy.
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Brian Cavanaugh, “Lichen and Fly” and Leo Franco, “Self-Reflection.”
Brian Cavanaugh, Leo Franco
Brian Cavanaugh, Naked Eye
Leo Franco, A Journey

Pirate: Contemporary Art, 7130 West 16th Avenue, Lakewood
Friday, July 5, through July 21
Opening Reception: Friday, July 5, 6 to 10 p.m.
Artist Talk: Saturday, July 13, 2 p.m.
Pirate opens member shows by Brian Cavanaugh and Leo Franco on First Friday at a time when both artists seem to be trying something different. Cavanaugh, better known for installation work, focuses on detailed black-and-white drawings of organic plant detritus and bugs, while Franco, a sculptor working with wood and acrylic panels, goes on a personal journey in mixed-media installation.

Jonah Brock, Discontinuity
Memento Mori Gallery, 6451 West Colfax Avenue
Friday, July 5, through July 27
Opening Reception: Friday, July 5, 6 to 9 p.m.
Artist Talk: Friday, July 19, 5 p.m.
Also based on personal reflection, the multi-disciplinary work of Jonah Brock metaphorically explores the artist’s life as a “transsexual, chronically ill and queer” being in graphite figure studies, drawings of wounds and internal organs in ink and pencil, and raw oil paintings of fingers digging welts into an anonymous face and torso. Brock’s show, Discontinuity, isn’t pretty, but it has an important story to tell.

First Friday Art Walk/Denver Art Society
Denver Art Society, 734 Santa Fe Drive
Friday, July 5, 5 to 11 p.m.
Free, RSVP here

The Denver Art Society on Santa Fe Drive always throws an art party on First Friday, pairing an evening’s worth of live music and a DJ alongside a display of work by 130 or more local artists. In July, bands include eSonny Masicampo, Sound Counsel, Roger Nicolas, Mike Railey, All Through the Night, Sunrise Drive and Elephant in the Room; take some time out from art viewing once in a while to try out the dance floor while you’re there.

South Pearl First Fridays Art Walk
Between the 1200 and 1800 blocks on South Pearl Street
Friday, July 5, 5 to 8 p.m., and every First Friday
Old South Pearl Street is pepping up its First Fridays with a new look and a lot of attractive extras this summer. Try it out, or you’ll never know how good it’s going to be. First off, businesses like the Ride Revolution Cycling Studio will be offering special evening events, and more than fifty artist vendors will hit the street for your pleasure, with art to buy and artist demos to try. Kaos Pizza is hosting a Ceramic and Pottery Artist Courtyard, 5 Green Boxes promises a “special artist demo,” RPO Framing and Gallery has live music, Sweet Cow Ice Cream is sending out the Moo Mobile, and Ruby’s hosts artists in the garden. That’s just a taste...and speaking of food, Sexy Pizza will be offering slice and drink specials.

CSFAC First Friday Art Party: Kevin Shinelikar Persaud
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs
Friday, July 5, 5 to 8 p.m.

Head to Colorado Springs for First Friday and discover CSFAC’s monthly art party, another free deep dive into art, music and occasional art talks and demos, as well as a cash bar and snacks. In July, abstract expressionist artist Kevin Shinelikar Persaud, who’s dubbed his work “double conscious jazz,” is the featured artist; check out his work in the Deco Lounge.
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Sean O’Meallie, “Lemon,” 2023, painted wood.
Sean O’Meallie, Auric Gallery
Lindsay Goss, Self-Study
Tyler Hays, Ceramics
Karen Khoury, In Situ
Robert Lococo, The Birdy Bunch
Shannon Mello, Arcus
Sean O’Meallie, Small Batch Book Making from the Wood Book Encyclopedia Factory near Downtown Colorado Springs

Auric Gallery, 125 East Boulder Street, Colorado Springs
Friday, July 5, through July 26
Opening Reception: Friday, July 5, 5 to 9 p.m.
Artist Talks: Wednesday, July 17, 5:30 p.m.

The Art Party at CSFAC is one piece of the overarching First Friday Downtown monthly event in the Springs, when local downtown galleries band together to celebrate the intersection of art and people seeking a night on the town. Auric Gallery is one participant, with six new shows opening together on First Friday: Lindsay Goss muses on the gifts of solitude, Shannon Mello offers gorgeous cloud studies in oils or charcoal, ceramics artist Tyler Hayes shows clay forms disturbed by gunshots, Karen Khoury hangs acrylic florals, patterns and abstract sets on panels, and playful woodworker Sean O’Meallie presents a new series of painted wooden books, some with three-dimensional objects on the covers. These are a pretty amazing way to dress up a bookshelf, alone or in a grouping. Learn more about First Friday Downtown, including a map of galleries, here.

Interested in having your event appear in this calendar? Send the details to [email protected].
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