While sitting in traffic on 22nd Avenue, it's hard not to look out the windows at the buildings around you. And that is when you notice it -- the large, colorful mural taking up the entire side of an abandoned building on Park and 22nd. The artist behind the piece used spray paint, but the result isn't graffiti; it's street art.
In our latest photo series, we're exploring some of the pieces behind Denver's growing street-art community through the stories of the artists who see the city as a canvas for vibrant artwork. From the well-known names to some Denver newcomers, we'll be introducing artists who are on a mission to make the public take notice of the "art" in their street art.
The first step is harder than it looks. Finding a wall to paint a mural on requires a lot of walking and searching. For local street artist Gamma, it takes pounding the pavement to find a good canvas. Most of Denver's street artists create their murals not for profit or as part of a solid job, but instead as an expression of who they are and what they see in the world around them. They also hope to change the public's' view of spray-painted street art.
With the help of organizations such as Colorado Crush and Guerilla Garden, street artists are transitioning from everyday graffiti artists and vandals (depending in your point of view) to legitimate artists, some of whom even make a living from their art.
"We work with the community building events, painting huge murals and working with the youth to think outside the box and push their love for the arts," says Robin Munro, a representative of Colorado Crush.
Through community involvement and contests, Colorado Crush is working to create a local renaissance of sorts -- this time with spray paint.
"We like to show that graffiti and street art are not an act of vandalism," says Munro. "Those kids who tag you garage may vary well be amazing artists one day, and why not try and help them reach their true potential?"
Guerilla Garden is a place where street artists can come together and work to improve their work and to hold Denver's street culture to a higher standard. Jolt, the artist who founded Guerilla Garden, tries to create a place where artists can work on their crafts and come for information about how to make street art profitable.
Each day this week -- and in a continuing series -- Westword will feature the work of a different Denver street artist. And you can join in the conversation: Along the way, we'll be keeping track of some notable pieces in a regularly updated Google map (see below). Tell us about your favorite pieces in the comments section below.
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View Denver Street Art in a full screen map