The ever-evolving alley between the 2500 and 2900 blocks of Walnut and Larimer streets provides endless inspiration for Instagrammers. Long before this place became a canvas for the annual CRUSH festival, the ancient warehouse walls on both sides attracted graffiti artists as well as fans of urban grit. As big, shiny buildings pop up all over River North, this stretch remains an unexpected oasis of Colorado cool, layered with ever-changing art that's both official and definitely unofficial. As a result, you're not likely to take the same photo twice while shooting these colorful walls. Just be sure to credit the artists!

Readers' Choice: RiNo District

The unassuming Ramada Inn at the corner of Speer Boulevard and I-25 is just the right spot to capture sunrise in Denver. From its perch overlooking downtown, you see an urban landscape stretching from Coors Field to Mile High Stadium, with everything in between, including Elitch Gardens, Confluence Park and the downtown cityscape, with bonus points for Pikes Peak off in the distance. Get a coffee on your way, look for the glowing "Hotel" lettering, grab your camera...and turn east to start your morning right.

Readers' Choice: Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Best Place to Photograph the Sunset in Denver

Washington Park

Best Place to Photograph the Sunset in Denver
Westword Archives

Denver is blessed with many parks with stunning views, and it's no secret that both Cheesman and City parks offer some phenomenal sunset photo ops. But for the best, head over to the east side of Washington Park, near Arizona Avenue and Franklin Street. Through your viewfinder, not only will you catch the sun going down behind the mountains, but Grasmere Lake provides stunning reflections of the west for your photos. Just watch out for the geese and their nemesis, the Goosinator.

Readers' Choice: Red Rocks Amphitheatre

The Rocky Mountain Land Library has added a Denver outpost to the original in South Park, where the organization devoted to a growing collection of books on natural history is turning an old ranch into a very special world devoted to words. But it has one project that you can participate in no matter where you happen to be in Colorado. The first and only requirement of the Cloud Atlas Project is that you look up — and, if you can, record what you see, as weather changes and sunsets occur and cloud after cloud rolls by in the Colorado sky. Whatever you capture, you can share it, helping to build an archive of imagery destined for a book. Other goals include related public programming, a gallery show, the building of cloud-spotting stations in prime locations and more. Things are definitely looking up!

cloudatlasproject.org

If you know a little something about architecture and read Denver's skyline like a book, it tells a story: that most of this city's downtown is anchored and defined by large and extremely tall buildings from the oil boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s, with only a few newer elements. But that story is now turning a page, as the current development boom has finally inspired new skyscrapers. With its theatrical shape, the standout is definitely 1144 Fifteenth Street, by Pickard Chilton architects and developed by Hines. Rising forty stories, the building has distinctively faceted elevations, with an outrageously sculptural skyline that's split into parts by complex naturalistic curves. The building's departure from rectilinearity is pronounced by the all-over geometric grids of the curtain walls, which introduce true horizontal and vertical orientations. Nearing completion, the striking new building will be occupied by the offices of Chipotle, Optiv and Gates, among other tenants.

Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art
From the moment the drawings by architects Olson Kundig were unveiled in 2014, it was apparent that the new Kirkland Museum would be one of the most distinctive landmarks in the Civic Center Cultural Complex — and that’s saying something, since the area was already crammed with landmarks. When it opened in March 2018, the exquisitely detailed structure, with its incredible terra cotta and glass-clad central pavilion, proved the perfect home for the Kirkland and its three areas of specialty: the work of museum namesake Vance Kirkland, whose historic studio was moved to a site immediately north of the new building; other artists associated with Colorado in some way; and international design and decorative art.
Denver Art Museum
Courtesy Denver Art Museum

Believe it or not, some people hate the main building of the Denver Art Museum, a silver-glass-tile-clad brutalist fortress designed by big-time Italian modernist Gio Ponti and completed in 1971, and over the years they've repeatedly suggested that it be demolished. Instead, DAM director Christoph Heinrich and the museum's board of trustees dismissed any thought of tearing it down, and instead decided to spruce up the place. The $150 million-plus project, which has just gotten under way, is being designed by Fentress Architects with Machado Silvetti and headed up by Jorge Silvetti, a lifelong admirer of Ponti; the plan is to fix what's wrong and add an adjacent pavilion intended to visually link the Ponti to the Hamilton Building across West 13th Avenue. Look for the revived Ponti to reopen in 2021, just in time for the building's fiftieth anniversary.

Patrick Marold is one of Colorado's most accomplished conceptual artists, and he was tapped to create "Sun Silo" for Community Park at Boulevard One, an extension of Lowry. The sculpture is a multi-story cylinder made of rings of steel with a bronze-like patina; the overall shape accounts for the "Silo" part of the title, while concave sections of the rings that allow light to reflect and shine through account for the "Sun." Marold is well known for his interest in manipulating natural light, but right now, "Sun Silo" could use a little time in the spotlight, since the surrounding park has yet to be landscaped and the adjacent town center is under construction. But if you can make your way to the piece, you'll find it illuminating.

Community Park, East Lowry Boulevard and Pontiac Street

Readers' Choice: 'Duct-Work 2

Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Outside the new Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art are five abstract sculptures that embody the last half-century of modern art in Colorado. The earliest piece is 1964's "Yin Yang," a two-part bronze fountain of interlocking organic shapes by Edgar Britton, the region's foremost mid-century modernist sculptor. There are two pieces by the state's dean of contemporary sculpture, Robert Mangold, one from 1980 in the fenced-in sculpture garden, and another done in 1982 that's mounted on the front of the building; both are tubular constructions from Mangold's "Tetrahedralhypersphere" series. These twentieth-century works are joined by two more recent sculptures: Near the historic Vance Kirkland Studio is "Celestial Echo," a bifurcated folded-plate form by Michael Clapper from 2004, and, marking the main entrance, "Procyon," by David Mazza, a tall and thin zigzagging piece from 2008. The greater Civic Center area already boasted the city's most significant public art; this new group puts it over the top.

Best New Street Art
Kenzie Bruce

Anthony Garcia Sr.'s serape style is everywhere: The Denver native's multicolor patterns have wrapped surfaces across the city, from bus benches and bus stops to dumpsters and electrical boxes. His designs are simple, clean, vivid and immediately recognizable, often imitating textured fabric and weaving patterns that pay homage to the Mile High City's indigenous history. Now he's making history with his most magnificent public work to date, on the new Federal Boulevard bridge running over 6th Avenue. The massive pillars on the bridge have been adorned by Garcia with bold blacks, pinks, greens and whites, acting as a welcome sign to anyone coming into the city from the west. While Colorado's flag is all red, yellow and blue, Garcia's kaleidoscopic hues and nod to Denver's colorful past truly capture the city's diverse cultural identity.

Readers' Choice: Anna Charney

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