What happens when an arts district emerges in an industrial neighborhood with plenty of blank city walls? Those walls become a canvas for some of the most innovative street art around. And in true Denver fashion, a community of passionate and creative souls have organized a festival around the phenomenon.
Started in 2010 by Robin Munro as a low-key gathering, CRUSH Walls is quickly becoming one of the largest street art festivals in the world, accumulating popular acclaim and formal accolades, including the Mayor's Design Award in 2014 and local magazine Westword's “Best Annual Festival” award in 2016.
For about a week each fall (this year's event takes place Sept. 14-20, 2020), CRUSH (which stands for Creative Rituals Under Social Harmony) organizes artists, in partnership with local businesses, to splash color and concepts across the River North Art District (RiNo) neighborhood. Centered around 27th and Larimer, the event has become a platform for artists to gather, create, share ideas and techniques, all to the delight of some 20,000 spectators and visitors.
And if you’re picturing thinly spray-painted, old-school graffiti, prepare to have your mind blown. CRUSH opens up city walls for truly innovative, talented and inspired urban beautification. You’ll see futuristic imaginings, moving political commentary and otherworldly scenes made in every street art technique conceivable.
“These artists are building the creative culture right in front of our eyes,” says Amanda Kriss, RiNo Art District Program assistant. “Besides working on walls, these artists are now gaining respect in the gallery community too, showing their work alongside other fine artists.”
DENVER GRAFFITI TOUR
See a different side of the city as you explore street art, murals and graffiti. Denver Graffiti Tour provides leisurely two-hour strolls through RiNo. Not only will you learn about the artists and their work, but get insider tips on go-to bars and hip restaurants.