RIP, Art: RiNo Residents Mourn the Death of the River North Neighborhood

Artists are turning RiNo Arts District promotional sculptures into sites of mourning to lament the impact of gentrification on the neighborhood.
Artists are turning RiNo Arts District promotional sculptures into sites of mourning to lament the impact of gentrification on the neighborhood. Amplify Arts Denver
The River North Arts District is booting out actual artists: That's the claim of a group of arts activists/residents who ramped up the fight against gentrification in the River North neighborhood by redecorating three iron slabs touting the RiNo Art District with flowers, crosses and other objects of mourning on Monday, August 14, 2017.

RTD security had cleaned up the memorials by late afternoon.

Amplify Arts Denver, which said it was not responsible for the action, sent out a press release on behalf of these activists. In their statement, the residents ask others who are mourning their changing neighborhoods to engage in similar acts of creative resistance. Here's the statement:

The City has had three wrought iron slabs built in the River North Arts District which display the word “Art” alongside the RiNo logo, a rhinoceros paired with a bird. On the morning of August 12th, a group of residents refashioned the particular slab at the 38th and Blake train station with cardboard signs, flowers, crosses and other tchotchkes of mourning, while also adding, above the word “Art,” the letters RIP. The installation was mostly taken down by RTD security within the hour.

Interpreting the slabs in question as graves marking the death of art in the neighborhood, the group thought to likewise memorialize many of the creative spaces and activities that have recently been lost in the area, by contributing objects of their own to the monolithic gravestone generously funded by the City (while adding, in the process, a bit of color to the scene).

At the same time, the group laments that art’s cause of death may in fact be art itself, as it is “art” which entices consumers and adds a veneer of sexiness and authenticity to the area’s development. Consequently, rents surge, while evictions serve the dual interests of commercialism and bureaucratic nervosa, voiding the RiNo Arts District of actual artists.

In reflection, the group pondered over what it means that RiNo may become Denver’s first Arts District Without Artists. Has gentrification outpaced itself? Now that RiNo has gentrified, how important is art-washing to the economic and cultural colonization of Globeville? And finally, must artists be complicit in a gentrification which displaces them? Or is there another way to make things?

The group encourage all residents of Denver who are in mourning for their neighborhoods to engage in creative acts of protest and opposition.

By four pm, the only additions remaining on the gravestone were the letters RIP.

RIP pigeon shit bridge #disconso

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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris