Furthering its commitment to supporting local artists, GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique and Gallery recently commissioned a mural on the shop's heavily trafficked block of Colfax Avenue. With help from the gallery's DJ Mario Zoots, curators Rebecca Peebles and Danette Montoya connected with artist and sign painter Kevin Hennessy, who (along with Zoots and Ryan Ingersol) created a striking yellow and black piece just inside the alleyway opposite to Groundswell's building.
This Saturday, June 29, the Galley will host an official unveiling of the mural, as well as the closing of its current exhibition, Evan Isoline's POLTERGEISTS.
The wall belonging to the gallery's neighbor, Qi Functional Training Center, had some work on it previously -- but Peebles saw potential to bring new life to the outdoor space. So, after consulting with the gym's owners and getting approval to paint over the current piece, the curator tapped Zoots -- an artist himself -- in the hopes of finding the right person to work with the massive fifteen-by fifty-foot wall.
"It was just a matter of coordinating with Kevin and seeing if he wanted to do it, if the size of the wall was even comprehensible for the kind of work that he likes to do," says Peebles.
Hennessy works by hand, so the sheer size of the wall was a factor. But Zoots thought his friend would be interested, as he had just seen some of Hennessy's outdoor mural work from a recent stay in Oaxaca, Mexico. "Kevin had just gotten back from Mexico and he showed me a picture of a wall he did in with a few other artists -- they all kind of did these small pieces evenly spread out through the whole wall and we thought, why don't we do something like that?"
Hennessy says the gallery's support of artistic freedom caught his attention. "They didn't have any kind of direction for us to go in," he says. "I had whole bunch of drawings in my notebook -- kind of like tattoo flash or something. Really densely clustered images and drawings that kind of fit into each other like puzzle pieces."
Over the course of five days, Hennessy, Zoots and Ingersol transformed the alleyway into a beautiful collection of interconnected figures, shapes, words and designs. And the art has gotten them all other commissions nearby, which they were all happy about.
"People have been stopping in that little alley to check it out or even just impromptu photo shoots in front of the artwork for the whole time we've been there," says Peebles. "Having the Max Kauffman mural directly adjacent on the other wall on our building, it just makes for a really cool space.
"We definitely want to promote artists that are capable of utilizing their skills and their talent in that way -- with a commitment to their own craft and a diverse ability to execute their techniques and their skill in their visual language that they use," says the curator. "They're the ones that hopefully are representatives of the Denver art scene."
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GroundSwell's mural project unveiling goes down this Saturday, June 29, from 5 to 8 p.m. There will be food and refreshments; the event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the event's Facebook page.