Denver Public Art

April 5, 2014 by  

Indeterminate Line Colorado Convention Center

Indeterminate Line – Colorado Convention Center

    I am very impressed with the way Denver has incorporated art into just about every capital improvement and public space restoration over the last quarter century. What started out as a 1988 executive order by then mayor Federico Peña became the Denver Public Art Ordinance when it was signed into law in 1991. In a nutshell, it states that any city project over $1 million must set aside 1 percent of the budget to include art in the design. Back then we didn’t have The Pepsi Center, Coors Field or 2 Super Bowl wins and all those abbreviated neighborhood names like Lodo, RiNo, LoHi and SoBo that are so popular now where nothing more than areas of abandoned buildings. They were able to rise from the ashes like a phoenix to become the beautiful, mature city you see now. The first time Denver and I met, it was a year away from having an art ordinance and I was a year away from being a teenager so we have watched each other grow up.

Dancers Denver Performing Arts Complex Public Art

Dancers – Denver Performing Arts Complex

    The oversized art trend Denver has embraced is something I happen to like as well. I’m not sure if it’s psychological or just a matter of preference but much like a photograph printed on the side of a building, I think everything looks better if it’s bigger.

Leap Of Faith Elitches and Pepsi Center In Denver

Leap Of Faith – Elitch Circle

    I’ve been enjoying Denver’s awesome system of paved bike trails and that is how I came to notice the amount of art that is just out for anyone to look at. There are dozens of pieces visible right from the trails and every single other piece can be reached by walking or biking a short distance from any trail.

Dave Choe Denver Mural 13th and Champa

David Choe Mural – 13th and Champa

    Many different mediums are used so no matter what sort of art you are in to, you’ll see something you like. I know that for some people the difference between illegal graffiti and legitimate street art is whether or not it was sanctioned, so I think it’s great that some artists have created sanctioned pieces with an underground style.

Confluent People Speer Street Bridge On Little Raven In Denver

Confluent People – Under Speer Street Bridge On Wewatta

    I have ideas for several posts that will highlight public art in Denver but as I started to compile photos and words for this post, I realized what a colossal task it is going to be. There are just so many public pieces and I have so many things to say about them that I have not yet figured out how I’m going to do it.

Mona Lisa Mural and Mona's Restaurant

Mona Lisa – Mona’s Restaurant – Near Confluence Park

    Of course, there was public art before the art ordinance and the 1984 mural above is an example. The difference is that back then art like this was the exception rather than the rule. Being able to see it all around the city now is one more thing that makes Denver such a great place to live.

Leap Of Faith Elitches and Pepsi Center In Denver

Leap Of Faith – Elitch Circle

    When you look at art, you feel emotion so hopefully the art around Denver will help you feel happy. Just head out to any trail in Denver, head towards downtown and you’ll start seeing art all around you. I recommend riding a bike, locking it up at Confluence Park and then continuing on foot into downtown. That way, when you are done with your romp, you can end up back at the park, jump on your bike and head home. Cheers!


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