Art News

RiNo Art District Cuts Ties With Crush Walls

The RiNo Art District and Crush Walls have severed ties.
The RiNo Art District and Crush Walls have severed ties. Kyle Harris
Days after the 2020 edition of Denver's massive street-art festival Crush Walls wrapped in September, artist Grow Love and other former romantic partners of Crush founder and director Robin Munro, aka Dread, took to Instagram to accuse the street artist of sexual assault and abuse.

The Instagram posts triggered the RiNo Art District to investigate the claims and temporarily suspend contracts with Munro and the festival. On December 2, Tracy Weil, the art district's co-founder and director, told Westword that his group and Crush Walls had cut ties — a radical move, considering that today the event and the district are sometimes viewed as one and the same, although the event was started independently in 2010 and only recently became an official district project in recent years, still organized by Munro.

"The RiNo Art District is no longer affiliated with Crush Walls," Weil said. "We'll be continuing to provide paid opportunities for artists with our mural programming and new events in 2021. Keep an eye out on our website and our social media for more info. Street art in the art district will continue to create vivid images and bold messages that are so important during these times."

Weil and the district have not publicly addressed the accusations against Munro or the results of their investigation, and decline further comment on the statement.

In Grow Love's September post to Instagram, she accused Munro of sexually assaulting her. Westword has spoken to the street artist, as well as several others who also accused Munro of inappropriate behavior with them.

"The allegations are false," Munro says when asked about the accusations. "That’s really all I would like to share at the moment."

And his attorney, Kathryn Stimson, shares this statement: "After a complete investigation, including review of all communications between Mr. Munro and the online accusers, it is readily apparent that the allegations against Mr. Munro are demonstrably false. Contrary to the misguided conclusions in recent media articles, Mr. Munro and RiNo mutually decided to part ways. Mr. Munro is back in control of Crush Walls, is actively creating a panel of artists to further grow and expand the Crush Walls movement. Crush Walls remains the exclusive mural art festival in the RiNo area, and Mr. Munro looks forward to growing the Crush Walls movement within the district and beyond."

Crush Walls, which was founded a decade ago by Munro with help from the City of Denver, has become a nationally celebrated mural festival that has drawn some of the world's biggest street artists to town. In the past two years, the organization loudly proclaimed its intention to diversify its lineup of artists and include more women and trans artists and people of color.

The festival has also prided itself on being a censorship-free zone, allowing artists to comment on the biggest issues of the day.

They'll have plenty to comment on in the years ahead.

This story has been updated to include Kathryn Stimson's statement.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris