Stepping into The Maven, a hotel located in the heart of Lower Downtown (LoDo) Denver on the corner of Wazee and 19th streets, it’s immediately apparent that this property has a vibe all its own. Opened in April 2017, the creators of this 172-room boutique property, which is part of the new Dairy Block redevelopment, tossed hotel lobby design on its head. Kachina Southwestern Grill rolled in a vintage Airstream trailer to serve coffee and to-go food items, and the hotel hung a huge hand sculpture by Colorado Springs artist Andrew Ramiro Tirado from the wood ceiling. 

There are plenty of other features that make this energetic lobby intriguing, but the 10-foot-long hand crafted from reclaimed wood begs all sorts of questions. For the inside scoop, we headed straight for the hotel’s general manager, the artist and the art adviser.

Maven hand sculptureThe General Manager: Gerry Link

“The hand is certainly the most iconic piece of art on display at The Maven. It is a destination (I’ll meet you at the hand), and it is Instagram and Snapchat ready for guests to identify,” says Gerry Link, general manager of The Maven. “It starts a conversation among guests of the hotel and Dairy Block alike like, “How did the artist create this?’ and ‘What was he inspired by?’”

Tirado’s sculpture also stimulates guests’ curiosity about the other art in the hotel and is a cheerful greeting to the property, he says. “The hand is remarkable in that it makes people smile. What a great way to arrive at a hotel — with a smile and enjoyment.”

The Artist: Andrew Ramiro Tirado

Transporting and installing the hand sculpture, known as “The Quantifiable and the Ineffable” and weighing in at more than 500 pounds, required a U-Haul, a forklift and some ingenuity. “It went off without a hitch. I was constantly, literally, knocking on wood, though,” notes Tirado.

“The piece was a commission and inspired by the Dairy Block's focus on the maker, the handmade, and perhaps a reinvestigation of and even a celebration of a kind of craft or an aesthetic that's easily passed over these days,” he explains. “Open hands are indicative of greater internal strength, fortitude and courage than the iconic closed fist, implying a willingness to trust, to risk and even, if need be, to suffer on behalf of and for the betterment of others.”

Although Tirado initially set out to create a single hand piece, it has morphed into a series of large-scale hands crafted from reclaimed wood and other 3D and 2D media in recent years. “Hands are the tools by which our hearts and minds physically engage the world,” he says. 

The artist’s career has ranged from building wood-strip canoes and custom cabinetry; fabricating custom props, displays and sets; teaching woodworking; and supervising the 3D arts facility at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Since 2016, he has focused solely on creating commissioned work for public and private venues. This was his first project for a hotel. “I feel so, so privileged and blessed to have the piece at The Maven,” he says. “The feedback has been incredible.”

Maven hand sculptureThe Art Adviser: Martha Weidmann

Denver-based NINE dot ARTS curated the more than 400 original pieces by Colorado artists for The Maven, part of the total 700 works selected for the new Dairy Block, a mixed-used redevelopment spearheaded by Sage Hospitality, McWHINNEY and Grand American, Inc. The Dairy Block once housed the city’s Windsor Dairy (three of the original buildings are incorporated) and now features the hotel, office space and a “micro-district” that will run from 18th and 19th between Blake and Wazee streets and house an eclectic mix of Colorado retailers, artisans, chefs and cocktail crafters. 

“From its original conception as a maker space, the Dairy Block made an early-on commitment to artists. Artists are the original artisans, the original makers. Artists take handcrafted to the nth degree, from the seeds of an idea through final execution…no assembly lines or outsourcing. It’s pure blood, sweat and tears,” says NINE dot ARTS CEO Martha Weidmann. 

“Andy Ramiro Tirado's sculpture is the perfect work to represent the Dairy Block in that it shows the creativity of the maker's hand, literally and figuratively,” she says. “Using found pieces of wood, exquisite craftsmanship and unexpected placement, Andy built a sculpture that has become a beckoning beacon for one of Denver's most exciting downtown spaces, The Maven Hotel at the Dairy Block.”

Photo credits: The Maven lobby photo by Andrew Bordwin Photography. Other photos by Andrew Ramiro Tirado.

Watch the video below of “The Quantifiable and the Ineffable” and several other works of art being installed at The Maven and Dairy Block, and don’t miss checking out the hand when in downtown Denver.