Arts and Culture

Trekking through RiNo on an Art Safari

We never ran into Dr. Livingstone last Saturday in the urban jungle, but we did see a lot of art during the district-wide RiNo Art Safari open studio artwalk event, a generous come-on to the public by artists and gallerists into River North Art District. During the space of only a couple of hours, we were able to tour an unstructured showcase of just about every echelon of Denver's art world, from the elite of the elite to all that's purely lowbrow. And, hey, we loved every minute of it, even if we only had tome to catch a fraction of what was going on in all of RiNo. It was a good fraction. Come along and see:

First stop, Megafauna. We wanted to check out this new hybrid gallery and retail store in Loy Merck's Meadowlark complex at 27th and Larimer streets in person; it nestles up to the Flobots Community Space, which is located in turn next to the Meadowlark proper. And Megafauna is a happening thing on a happening corner, creating an outlet for young artists and entrepreneurs, many of whom live and work in the area: You'll find screen-printed tees by Derailed Ink and others, Havea Lolo vintage togs, repurposed furniture by Vintage Renewal and more.

Then, it was off to Walnut Street, where we stopped in to chat with Robin Rule at her new, more streamlined Rule Gallery location adjacent to the Dry Ice Factory studios. There's a fabulous show of paintings by Margaret Neumann up there for another couple of weeks. Next door, Ice Cube Gallery is dominated by Jennifer Jeannelle's monumental, spiky clay and mixed media wall installation. But Theresa Anderson's installation private listening devices counters it well with a spontaneous tableau of found objects, clippings and drawings that form a private and whimsical room.

Next, we sneaked into Hinterland, where Sabin Aell and Randy Rushton presided over the last day of One Hundred Days: The Online Collaborative. Droll photographer Sally Stockton stopped over to say hello, on break from Pattern Shop Gallery, a block away, where her amazing solo exhibit of posed self-portraits as various art-history icons continues through August 5.

Deep, deeper into the jungle we trekked, entering the high-energy hallways of Walnut Workshop, which along with its sister venue Wazee Union, provides inexpensive studio space and camaraderie to a mixed population of artists and businesses.They are both amazing places to behold, labyrinthine, splashed with art and filled with treasure at every turn. Eli Cash and Chase Goll share this epic graffito-washed studio at Walnut Workshop, full of murals, freshly painted skate decks, artifacts and other hip minutiae. And on to Wazee Union, where sometimes the sign on the door says it all: Under this image (t-shirts available at MegaFauna!), we found Renaissance dude Kevin Daviet facing the doorway at at his feng shui-correct DJ station. Kevin designed his kitty wigs logo for the folks who made this book: He's also into screen and linoleum printing, and calls the Denver street artist Frank Kwiatkowski, who's known for his orange traffic cone prints, a mentor. He's even wearing one of Frank's t-shirts: On and on, through the winding Wazee Union hallways... That left us just enough time to drop in and poke around studios at Ironton and visit Weilworks, both ensconced on Chestnut Place. Tracy Weil has a pretty cool show up, featuring unusual woodworker Chris DeKnikker. At Weilworks, Tracy let us see these cha-cha-dress poppies and the bird house in his back yard.

Thankfully, RiNo is never off-limits to the public, with monthly artwalks on both First Fridays and Second Saturdays. These are just a few of its places; check out the website for an introduction to all the rest.

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd