Arts & Creative Districts

Ashley Jefcoat / KUNC

This summer, real estate agents James Carlson and Erin Spradlin have been taking tourists around the streets of Denver. But it’s not hot properties they’re taking them to see.

The husband-and-wife team recently started the Denver Graffiti Tour, showcasing some of the biggest murals and best street artists in the city, after taking a similar tour in Bogota, Columbia.

“We got to meet locals in a way that we wouldn’t normally have,” Spradlin said. “We got to see a neighborhood we otherwise wouldn’t have. And we got to hear about the history and the politics of that neighborhood through some amazing art.”

Stacy Nick / KUNC

For 30 years, Annie Hamilton has handled casting for many of the television and film projects made in Colorado -- including, most recently, the Jane Fonda/Robert Redford Netflix film, “Our Souls at Night.”

Recently, Hamilton helped conduct an open-casting call for a brand of actor that is becoming more and more sought after in Colorado: “real people.”

“We’re steering away from the beauty and skinny,” she said. “They want real because that’s who the consumers are. That’s who their audience is.”

Stacy Nick / KUNC

When Art Comes to Town: This story is the second in a series as KUNC arts and culture reporter Stacy Nick explores the impact art has on Colorado communities — and the impact those communities have on the art that comes out of them.

Sun Valley is one of Denver’s poorest neighborhoods. More than 80 percent of households live below the poverty line and 70 percent of residents are unemployed. It also has the highest violent-crime rate, more than five times the citywide average.

But between a public-housing initiative, a proposed mixed‐use neighborhood near the home of the Denver Broncos and several arts destinations moving into the area, Sun Valley is set to see more than a billion dollars in investments in the next five years.

Matt Bloom/KUNC

A woman with electric blonde hair and floral print pants floated among the six dancing couples, stopping only to correct a step or give praise.

“Step! Step together, step! Step! Step together, step!” she yelled over the Diana Krall song coming from a stereo in the corner of the room. “So, scoot a little instead of marching, ok?!”

The floorboards in the basement of the Masonic Temple in Fort Collins creaked beneath Sandy Newlin’s feet as she came to a stop.

Jason Melancon/Edgelight Photo Courtesy of Artspace

Officials with the national nonprofit Artspace say there is a substantial need for affordable housing and studio space for Fort Collins artists.

But what the next step is -- that’s unknown.

Stacy Nick / KUNC

When Art Comes to Town: This story is the first in a series as KUNC arts and culture reporter Stacy Nick explores the impact art has on Colorado communities — and the impact those communities have on the art that comes out of them.

Every January for the last 10 years, Claire Beedall and her family have traveled from England to vacation in Breckenridge.

“We come out skiing here normally, but we try and coincide it with the snow sculptures,” Beedall said, referencing the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpting Competition.

Now in its 28th year, the event is an ingrained part of the mountain town’s identity -- almost as much as its slopes.

Stacy Nick / KUNC

For more than 40 years, George Lundeen has been sculpting bronzes in Loveland. But his process goes back about 500 years -- at least.

“It’s no different than what Michelangelo did,” Lundeen said. “And you can see from his models, he started with very small models, went to a little bit larger model that had more detail on it, and finally went into a piece of stone.”

For Lundeen, it typically starts with a sketch and then a model molded out of clay. That’s used to create a cast for a wax model, which is cast again, and the wax melted out. Then it’s ready for a foundry to make the final piece of art.

But now Lundeen -- and a lot of other sculptors -- are going a bit more high-tech.

Stacy Nick / KUNC

When you think of a poster, you might be thinking of it hanging on a teenager’s bedroom wall rather than in an art museum. But for almost 40 years, Colorado State University has been showing off the poster’s more artistic look -- along with its message.

“Posters in general are a great medium both for their economics and their portability, but also because they really do allow for what graphic design is really about, which is communicating strongly through image and typography and language and to make statements that can really reach people deep down,” said Jason Frazier.

The CSU art professor is the co-director for the Colorado International Invitational Poster Exhibition. The biennial event honors the art and the impact of the form.

Stacy Nick / KUNC

For Jeff West and his family, a stop in Boulder is a must when they visit from Chicago. That stop always includes the Pearl Street Mall for some shopping, some dining and some unique entertainment.

“We’re looking for a guy who folds himself up into a clear box,” West said.

That may sound strange unless you’re familiar with one of Pearl Street’s longest running tenants. Up the mall, about 50 people gathered around Ibashi-I while he artfully folded his 6-foot tall, 160-pound body into a 20-by-20-inch clear, plastic box.

“Some people call it contortionist,” Ibashi-I said. “I call it Rasta yoga, because it’s my own style.”

Sharon Hahn Darlin / Flickr: Creative Commons

Denver officials have proposed a first-of-its-kind program to address dangerous code violations in artist DIY spaces and allow owners and tenants to stay while those issues are being addressed.

The Safe Occupancy Program recognizes that with the cost of real estate in Denver skyrocketing, many artists are being priced out of live/work spaces and looking to unpermitted -- and potentially dangerous -- locations as an alternative, said Brad Buchanan, Executive Director of Denver’s Department of Community Planning and Development.

“We believe this will -- we hope -- open up a lot of opportunities to individuals who don’t think they have a choice,” Buchanan said.

Pages