CRUSH Walls – Empowering the community with Public Art
From September 3rd to 9th, the 9th edition of the CRUSH Walls festival assembled a collection of local and international artists in Denver, Colorado. For 9 straight years, CRUSH Walls has used the medium of public art in order to embellish and diversify the urban landscape, centered around the idea of empowering artists.
The River North Art district, also known as the RiNo district, serves as the cultural and artistic hotbed of Denver, this is where CRUSH Walls has set its home. The festival is the brainchild of local artist Robin Munroe, it began as small urban art gathering but has now grown to new heights and stretches over 30 blocks, hosting a wide variety of cultural and artistic programming.
The six days of festivities featured a wide range of events, here are a few highlights of the 2018 edition.
Serving as the opening night, a special curated exhibition of artwork and installations with the Juxtapoz clubhouse, which normally has its home-base in Wynwood but has now expanded to the RiNo district, took over an industrial warehouse. The event presented a massive, immersive installation that featured international urban artists, notably Laurence Vallières, Add Fuel, Faith XLVII, Marie-Claude Marquis and installations from artists such as Brett Flanigan, Kristin Farr, Oliver Hawk Holden, plus many more.
The Bring Your Own Beamer event is an interactive activity that invited artists to bring their own projectors and to cast their work on a blank wall. The canvas would then get crushed with paint throughout the week.
Secret walls featured the biggest live illustration battle. Equipped with a black marker and a blank wall, the artists had 90 minutes on the clock as they went head to head in a freestyle illustration battle.
Always collaborating with local creative spaces during the festival, art spaces and galleries along the RiNo district also hosted a number of exhibitions that featured work of artists participating in the 9th edition of CRUSH Walls. This was an opportunity to get up close and personal and a chance to learn more about the creative mind of the artists.
The main attraction of CRUSH Walls is the new murals that pop-up in RiNo during the week-long festival. Once again this year, local and international guest artists took on the mandate of beautifying the walls of the famous district.
Traces of the Cryptik movement made an appearance in Denver with another stunning piece title Sacred Land, featuring the signature mantrandala hand-style of the Californian-based muralist.
Neighbouring Cryptik, the art of Obey Giant by Shepard Fairey created the mural titled Power and Equality in an effort to push back against the forces of division and racism and also claim the support of public art.
Where the east side and west side of the RiNo district connect, you can find Consensus, a new mural created by Portuguese artist Add Fuel. In addition to the recognizable azulejo tile design, Add Fuel incorporated reworked patterns inspired from cultures in Europe, the middle east and Africa, reflecting the diverse society that we live in.
In collaboration with Galeria Balneario, Mexican natives Smithe and Poni, each took on a wall that were decorated with the surrealism of Smithe and the feminine power of Poni.
CRUSH Walls always looks to collaborate with the local arts as well. Artists like Jason Garcia, Mike Giant, and Patrick Kane McGregor combined their vision and talent to create of photorealistic rendering of a portrait by photographer James Stolzenbach.
Detour’s mural once again drew inspiration from the African-American culture with a portrait of the iconic Nina Simone.
And the eclectic style of Birdcap made an appearance during the festival as he had the chance to produce a couple of murals in his hometown of Denver.
For the complete list of artists that participated in the 9th edition Crush Walls, visit crushwalls.org – We are looking forward to what the 10th anniversary of CRUSH Walls will produce.
Words by Rene Ricardo Bernal
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