Jaune Marion stenciled these workers along Brighton Boulevard.EXPAND
Jaune Marion stenciled these workers along Brighton Boulevard.
Kyle Harris

Size Matters: Why Tiny Workers Won Best New Public Art

Denver has a size problem: The city likes its art big. Threateningly big, dangerously big, awkwardly big.

There’s the Big Blue Bear, the Big Red Chair With the Horse on Top (a horse that occasionally goes missing), the Big White Dancers and the Big Blue Mustang With Light-up Red Eyes (an artwork so big that it killed Luis Jiménez, the artist who created it). With an onslaught of murals — some funded by the city, others by corporations — even painters are going big, having broken free from the constraints of the canvas to take over the sides of massive buildings.

It’s almost as though Denver were trying to compensate for something. The palette needs a cleanse.

That's why we love the tiniest art we’re aware of that came out of Crush Walls 2018 — those elfin workers, climbing, dangling and playing on bricks, stenciled up and down Brighton Boulevard — and gave the piece our Best New Street Art award in the Best of Denver.

Most street art is designed for billboard-gawking drivers zipping by; in contrast, the tiny workers, painted by the Belgian artist Jaune, target pedestrians.

They remind passersby that the city doesn’t just magically rise from the ground up. Real people do the work, mostly in the shadows.

Viewers can decide for themselves whether the images show the workers playing like children or dangling precariously, struggling to survive. That tension between joy and peril makes these pieces worth savoring.

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