Art News

Twenty-One Insane Murals in RiNo From Colorado Crush 2016

Colorado Crush 2016 may be over, but the murals that recently bloomed in the RiNo Art District aren't going anywhere. Nearly eighty artists made this year's event the most successful ever. Since Crush balances street art and graffiti, it can sometimes feel as though the event's at odds with itself, given the complex relationship between those two worlds. But this year, there was a welcoming sense of community and comradeship between artists, and a crush of appreciative visitors.

This year's Crush not only enjoyed huge buy-in from neighborhood businesses, but central space was saved for artists who live in the neighborhood, Denver graffiti crews and first-timers; international artists were given space on the main walls. There was so much art, it was impossible to see it all — or to show it all here. Our slideshow comes close, but you simply have to head down to RiNo to understand how this district is becoming one of the leading outdoor art spaces in the nation. 

In the meantime, here are 21 jaw-dropping new murals painted during Colorado Crush 2016. 

1. Anthony Garcia 
Rackhouse Pub

This spot was made brighter by Anthony Garcia Sr., the Birdseed founder who was back for his fourth, and most ambitious, Crush project. Find the two murals painted by Garcia pictured above on the north-facing wall of Rackhouse. 
2. The Big Wall - Dulk, Jose Mertz, Max Sansing
Denver Central Market
2669 Larimer Street
The big wall was a sight to behold this year, and timed nicely (albeit accidentally) to coincide with the grand opening of Denver Central Market. Beginning on Larimer Street and working west: Spain's Dulk painted "The Tortoise and the Harriet" from a children's book of the same name; Miami-based Jose Mertz painted the central, rainbow Tiger, with a little help from friend and fellow artist Woes; and Chicago-born Max Sansing created a color-dripping mural on the far right, next to the impressive list of Crush 2016 sponsors.
3. Arty Deed's Stranger Things Alley
2500-2600 block between Larimer and Walnut streets
The Arty Deeds crew fucks heavily with Stranger Things — or at least curator Jher knew everyone would love the concept. This residential alleyway is now decked out with references to the Netflix show; artists who contributed included Eaks, Duble, Shewp, Gets, Ben Chase Thompson and more. Jher, who painted half of the Stranger Things alleyway, has done graffiti in Denver for over 20 years and also happened to make our list of the twenty best tattooers in Denver. The piece is currently still in progress, Jher explains, but is nearly 2/3 done and will likely be completed in another 2-3 weeks. 
4.  Koko Bayer, Kwue Molly with Outersource, Ozjuah Sepia, Cicso Sinatra, Mad Man Art, Jake Merten and Denton Burrows
Denver Hardware 
3200 Walnut Street

Denver Hardware was among the most decked out of spaces this year, with a total of nine artists painting on its bizarre, rock-textured walls, including Kwue Molly from New York with collaborative help from artist Outersource, Cicso Sinatra, Denton Burrows, Mad Man Art, Jake Merten, both from California, and locals Koko Bayer (with a wheat paste) and Ozjuah Sepia. Says Sepia of the piece: "This one is the ozjuahzian guardian of the sky, who protects the sky and all the creatures who live there. Similar to a large whale-size fish called phisozian. She has a sun on her head as a crown and clouds on her shoulders. This piece is dedicated to my only son, whom I call my only sonshine (sunshine), he brings light and happiness into my life. She has a cloud on a string to show that no matter how hard life gets, there is always a silver lining some place in the sky."
5. Blaine Fontana
Ratio Beerworks
2920 Larimer Street

This ten-day project was possibly the most ambitious to date by Blaine Fontana, who says: "On the verge of finishing the most proud yet challenging murals I have ever done. Finishing the Louis Pasteur portrait. I'm in uncharted territory ripping an aerosol portrait on a 12 foot scale."
6. Woes
Zero Market
2450 Larimer Street

Woes Martin was a busy man during Crush 2016. He painted a gigantic collaboration on the back of Rackhouse with Jose Mertz to start, then went on to help Mertz with his tiger piece on the big wall, and by the time Thursday and Friday rolled around, Woes was working on his third giant canvas: the graphic, layered panda scene seen above. Thank you, Woes!
7. Patrick Kane McGregor 
Erico Motorsports

2855 Walnut Street
McGregor commissioned his son, Tristan, to help him finish this stunning monster wall located in the "skirts" of the central Crush location. McGregor has accidentally made bulldogs his mascots and a signature part of his work; he didn't originally plan to include the symbols here, but was talked into adding them to a piece that centers on Evil Knievel. And it paid off. McGregor is the lead man for Colossal, which works on hyper-realistic sign commissions around town.   8. Michael Ortiz
Volunteers of America
2660 Larimer Street
This is the first time that the Volunteers of America building has been painted in any form. It's a prime location that faces the Matchbox, the big wall and main parking lot of Crush, and Ortiz got dibs on three of the best canvases at Crush 2016. He did them justice, weaving pensive and deliberate emotions throughout the three pieces, creating a warm triptych.
9. Smoky and Shalak
The Walnut Room
3131 Walnut Street
Canadian artists Shalak Attack and Bruno Smoky dominated a Walnut Room-facing wall during Crush 2016. The finished piece is a two-headed bear that will scare the pizza out of your hands if you walk out of the Walnut Room too quickly. The duo was passing through Denver on a street-art tour that takes them to Houston this weekend; they left the Mile High City a major souvenir of their visit.
10. Axel Geittmann
The Populist
3163 Larimer Street
Axel Geittmann is another local artist who exceeded expectations at Crush 2016 with his silver-and-black street-art piece on the north-facing wall of the Populist. You may recognize his work from the still-standing Project Colfax, an abandoned car wash turned gallery. Of this piece, Geittmann said on Instagram: "Reunited with spray cans after we broke up about a decade ago." 

Continue reading to see eleven more of the most amazing new murals from Crush 2016.

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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