Art News

Kelsey Montague Creates One of Her Signature Murals for a New Denver Brewery

Kelsey Montague interacts with her mural at Danico Brewing.
Kelsey Montague interacts with her mural at Danico Brewing. Courtney Montague
Kelsey Montague has painted her famous interactive murals all around the world, from Australia to Europe to Asia and Africa, but nothing beats painting a wall in her home state. She's just completed a piece for the soon-to-open Danico Brewing, and the collaboration will culminate at the end of the year with a beer that Montague is working to design, both inside and outside the can.

A fourth-generation Coloradan, Montague grew up in Littleton in a family of artists, and always had a sketchbook on hand. "It was just a fun way to escape," she says. "And then I was living in New York, and a lot of the people in my neighborhood started to know me as an artist, because I was drawing in coffee shops whenever I had a spare second at night or on the weekends. I was invited to draw on this rotating art wall outside of a popular restaurant there, and I had no idea what I was doing, but I wanted to do wings.

"I love the idea of being in flight, and I wanted it to be interactive," she recalls. "It started from there, and soon after I did my interactive piece that went viral, and now I'm getting close to my nine-year mark just of doing street art."

She's gained international fame for her murals that allow viewers to step up and become a part of the work, accompanied by the hashtag #WhatLiftsYou. In some spots, her murals attract long lines of people waiting to pose for a photo. "Most of my street-art pieces do have that hashtag just because with murals, I really want my work to be something that's a positive experience and inspiring and lifts people up," Montague explains. "So a lot of what I do is [evoke that] feeling of being lifted up, whether it's a pair of wings you're wearing, or you appear like you're blowing a bunch of hearts out into the world, or you're sitting on a swing that appears to be lifting you up."

Montague is particularly high on her collaboration with Danico, which is set to open at 18490 East 66th Avenue in November. "I never thought I would do not only a brewery mural, but I would get to design a beer with them!" she says. "I just love it. It's so much fun."

This is her first collaboration with a brewery, and she's especially happy that it's in her hometown, since her family could come by and visit while she worked. The now-completed Danico piece is her seventh mural in the Denver area. She decorated an already teal-colored wall with a labyrinth of swirling, detailed hops, barley and butterflies; a swing completes the piece, and integrates Montague's signature interactive element.

"I loved doing this one because, first of all, the colors are just really beautiful," she says. "And I got to draw a lot of hops and barley, which was fun; I don't usually draw a lot of that imagery. It was also fun to learn more. I'm already learning so much about making beer just by, you know, researching and thinking about the design creatively. So it had this feel of hops and barley that are intertwined together, and you've got a number of butterflies, which gives that magical feel. I had a lot of fun playing with that and just getting that organic feel that is behind beer-making already."

Now that the mural is complete, Montague is working with Danico to craft a companion beer, which will be released sometime this winter. She's not sure exactly what the flavor will be, but hints that she loves an apricot-tasting wheat beer. "I even help come up with the name of the beer, so I really am going to be part of every single thing that's going to be part of this process, and that's a cool thing for me," she says.

After that beer is complete, Montague will head to Nashville, where she will paint an Airbnb in her signature style.

But in the meantime, her Danico mural will be making Colorado just a little more colorful. Cheers!
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Emily Ferguson is Westword's Culture Editor, covering Denver's flourishing arts and music scene. Before landing this position, she worked as an editor at local and national political publications and held some odd jobs suited to her odd personality, including selling grilled cheese sandwiches at music festivals and performing with fire. Emily also writes on the arts for the Wall Street Journal and is an oil painter in her free time.
Contact: Emily Ferguson

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