Arts and Culture

Meet the Artists Behind the Street-Art Murals of Colorado Crush 2015

What a beautiful, aerosol-filled weekend! Colorado Crush was massive this year, taking over the RiNo arts district and adding fresh murals by acclaimed local and international artists. Jonathan Lamb of Like Minded Productions had helped locate the walls and sanction space for the artist lineup, which included Colorado Crush founder Robin Munro. View our slideshow for more photos of street art from the weekend, and keep reading for a look at the artists. 
Pistoe and Victoriano Rivera
Acclaimed local artists Pistoe and Victoriano Rivera battled it out Mortal Kombat style on this wall in the parking lot of the Cold Crush bar, taking over the coveted spot that held Don't Fret Art's dinner table for the past year. The two artists are friends and graffiti writers who always push the envelope. View another mural by Rivera at the Meininger Art Wall.  
Mad Man Art
John John, aka MD MN, comes out of Los Angeles, where he's one of the self-proclaimed Lost Boys alongside artist Jake Merten. They absolutely killed at this year's Colorado Crush, taking on the same wall as last year at the request of the business owner, but doing twice as much square footage. The artists did this huge space justice with an anime-esque character battle that balanced MD MN and Merten's unique viewpoints. 
Jake Merten
Jake Merten hails from Chicago, but he's been a working artist and Lost Boy in California for the past few years. He and MD MN painted one of the most powerful and frequently photographed murals at last year's Cold Crush, so the bar was high this year. Merten approaches his work with the same zen with which he treats onlookers, pausing to take photos with adoring fans, then refocusing on his art with an intense presence. He's loved anime most of his life, and that's reflected in his graphic and energetic style. Follow Merten's adventures and art here
Lauren YS
Lauren YS Illustration was one of the most critically acclaimed muralists at Colorado Crush 2015. Originally from Denver, she's currently based out of Oakland and came home to participate thanks to Lamb and the other board members, who flew her back. Lolo graced the largest wall, next to Blaine Fontana, and her whimsical female character with a fierce and detailed blue dragon are a true sight to behold. Eyebrows on point. 
Markham Maes
Markham Maes, also known as Shitty Kitten, is one hell of an artist. He was a proud papa watching both of his kids try their hand at aerosol, making this a collaborative piece by the entire family. This is far from Maes's first time at Colorado Crush, and he celebrated his veteran status by creating one of his boldest and most beautiful murals to date. Check out more photos of his kids hard in the paint in our Colorado Crush slideshow. 
Vyal One
California street-art legend Vyal One, also known as Vyal Reyes, absolutely killed it at Colorado Crush, taking on one of the largest walls in the event, which wrapped around the building at 2668 Walnut Street. In his own words, he paints hallucinations. Reyes is a leader in the graffiti arts movement and an inspiration to other artists. 
Brian Scott Hampton 
Local artist Brian Scott Hampton's piece for Colorado Crush took over the high traffic wall on Knew Conscious, an art gallery just west of the Meadowlark. Hampton explained the piece as an homage to color wielders, entitled "Spectral Pilots." What drove him to become an artist?  "I was adopted so part of me didn't know where this artistic kind of passion was coming from," he says. "My adopted parents were great, they just weren't artists, so it was kind of about the concept of nature versus nurture, like, what is this innate piece of me that needs to create? That desire or that drive to create has had a greater impact in my life than anything else. All of my artwork is a way of working through that."
Sandra Fettingis
Sandra Fettingis had a squad of artist friends lending a hand on this enormous piece on the upper facade of the Emma and Grace wedding studio. This was Fettingis's first appearance at Colorado Crush, while she continues her artist's residency for another year just up the street at RedLine gallery (where she painted another stellar piece that made our summer street-art list). Everything Sandra does reflects the complexity of life, with shapes and patterns creating a sort of geometric therapy. 
Mike Graves
Mike Graves represented Denver artists in a big way this past weekend; he painted this giraffe and classic Graves character riding along the wall of the Emma and Grace wedding studio, directly below Sandra Fettingis's mural.  Their harmonious collaboration is the first to ever go on this prime Larimer Street facade, bringing playful life and light to the businesses. The dark green paint has been there for so long, it began chipping off, which means the mural additions could not have come at a better time. Graves represented his home town at the Secret Walls event as well, taking home the win for Denver. 
David Shillinglaw
David Shillinglaw is a London-based artist who exhibited the energy of a thousand suns as he painted this massive mural found on the north-facing wall of the Matchbox's back patio. The Brit incorporated a pop-acid bricolage of layered faces and text, primary colors and an unapologetic point of view that made his first visit to the Denver scene a great one. See Shillinglaw paint the side of Like Minded studios up the street, at 2700 Walnut Street, this week before he jumps back across the pond.
MPek is a world-renowned artist who visits Denver regularly; he's originally from Puebla, Mexico. Commissioned to paint the mural above as well as the mobile mural for Colorado Crush, he explains his art as "energia sutil alta de evolucion de conciencia," which translates to "subtle, high energy of evolution of consciousness."
Thomas Evans
Thomas Evans, known on Instagram as Detour, had never painted a piece of public art this large, and definitely not with with aerosol. But Evans is up to a challenge, both in art and in his personal life. After graduating with a degree in business, he switched gears and decided to join the Navy, only to suffer from a serious knee injury just before enlisting. So Evans switched gears again and invested his time and effort into perfecting the art he loved doing as a child. Now he puts his business mind to work in the art world, even filing for a patent to his music-meets-art original style of gallery shows. See some oil and acrylic work by the Evans inside Meadowlark Kitchen. 
Hollis and Lana
The RiNo area is no stranger to the work of the brilliant local artistic duo of Hollis and Lana; you can see their work on the west-facing courtyard of Infinite Monkey Theorem up the street. This was their first year painting for Colorado Crush; see the alien-esque imagination of Hollis and Lana behind the Matchbox, facing west, brought to life in a wild and surreal mural. David Rice and Blaine Fontana
Acclaimed street artists from Portland, Oregon, Blaine Fontana and David Rice made this mural on the largest, and possibly most coveted, wall in Colorado Crush history, bringing the ocean to our andlocked state. See it in person and then follow the painting and traveling adventurea of the two artists on Instagram. 
Max Kauffman
Max Kauffman was able to paint this amazing, preserved house on Larimer and 26th streets, which has been owned by the same family for decades. The owner refuses to sell, saying she will eventually turn the house into a sort of museum or homage to River North. Kauffman did the space justice using his quirky, found objects and painted additions on the beautiful, worn brick. Chickens were in the mix during the painting — which was fitting, since Kauffman has made the house look like an owl from the front. 
Molly Bounds
Molly Bounds crushed this mural for Colorado Crush in under than 48 hours, emphasizing her theme of female angst in a pastel homage to the dream of the '90s. See more work by Bounds on the Meininger Art Wall, featuring the murals of seven local artists, which earned a spot on our amazing murals of summer list
Sec and Ease
The two talented California-based artists made their way to Colorado Crush for the largest wall the duo has ever done. Sec says the task seemed monumental at first, but he's not one to shy away from the challenge. (He's also the only one who wore a sweatshirt and beanie in the 90 degree heat.) The most resonating phrase painted on their piece would have to be "We paint louder than you talk."
Anthony Garcia Sr.
Anthony Garcia Sr. has had an amazing year in street art, winning the Westword Mastermind award, completing another mural for the UAF earlier this month in Globeville, and doing several of the Biz on the Boulevard projects in Jefferson Park. Every week, Garcia Sr.'s non-profit Birdseed Collective has also been giving food to the neighborhood he loves, Globeville. And still, Garcia found time to paint this collaborative mural with Jillian Kay, weaving lines reminiscent of a Mexican blanket throughout her characters.  

Sponsors of the event included Liquitex, Denver Arts + Venues, Park Burger, Exdo, Sage Hospitality, SweetLeaf, Jiberish, Next Harvest, Red Bull, Wolf Properties, and more.

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Lindsey Bartlett is a writer, photographer, artist, Denver native and weed-snob. Her work has been published in Vanity Fair, High Times and Leafly, to name a few.
Contact: Lindsey Bartlett