Spraypaint on downtown Denver sidewalks this weekend will point the way to green infrastructure

It has to do with making downtown a little more woodsy.

Azariah (5) helped Artist Pat Milbery paint a sidewalk at 14th and Curtis Streets to promote Denver Parks and Recreation's downtown tree canopy expansion, July 17, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Azariah (5) helped Artist Pat Milbery paint a sidewalk at 14th and Curtis Streets to promote Denver Parks and Recreation's downtown tree canopy expansion, July 17, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photos

Kids got their hands colorfully dirty Wednesday while they helped artist Pat Milbery paint radiant blazes on the corner of 14th and Curtis. The bright little leaf-shaped arrows will point people toward the city’s natural amenities in the otherwise concrete downtown jungle during the Denver Greater and Greener conference starting this weekend.

The conference will pull parks leaders and elected officials from all over America to the Colorado Convention Center from Saturday through Thursday. Park people will nerd-out on all things parks: tree canopies, urban street planters, public gardens and yes, controlling the Canada geese population.

Sidewalk paintings by artist Pat Milbery at 14th and Curtis Streets promoting Denver Parks and Recreation's downtown tree canopy expansion, July 17, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Sidewalk paintings by artist Pat Milbery at 14th and Curtis Streets promoting Denver Parks and Recreation's downtown tree canopy expansion, July 17, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Artist Pat Milbery paints a sidewalk at 14th and Curtis Streets with Jaylynn (11) to promote Denver Parks and Recreation's downtown tree canopy expansion, July 17, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Artist Pat Milbery paints a sidewalk at 14th and Curtis Streets with Jaylynn (11) to promote Denver Parks and Recreation's downtown tree canopy expansion, July 17, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver Parks and Recreation is calling the collection of blazes a “temporary urban campus” to show off Denver’s green infrastructure. They’ll lead conference goers and the general public to a series of parklets along Curtis Street between 15th Street and the 16th Street Mall. The route will pass pop-up art installations and more mundane but important infrastructure, like like large, new planters for trees and shrubs that have begun to replace the small ones covered by metal grates. The latter just don’t work that well.

Those planters are one reason downtown has such a little amount of shade. The city is aiming to densify its downtown tree canopy from 4 percent coverage to 10 percent, Deputy Parks Manager Scott Gilmore said. Parks and Rec is using the bright wayfinders to tease what Gilmore called a “big announcement” with the Downtown Denver Partnership later this summer to meet that goal.

In the meantime, kids get to paint with Milbery, an artist who has put his mark on Denver streets, literally, with a distinct swatch of fluorescent, bold colors.

“It’s a big honor. I’ve put a lot of effort and time and energy into weaving it into the city, you know, as far as the palettes are concerned and a lot of energy-filled colors,” Milbery said as he outfitted a tiny spray-painter with a latex glove way too big for her hand.

Artist Pat Milbery paints a sidewalk at 14th and Curtis Streets, with some help from local kids, to promote Denver Parks and Recreation's downtown tree canopy expansion, July 17, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Artist Pat Milbery paints a sidewalk at 14th and Curtis Streets, with some help from local kids, to promote Denver Parks and Recreation's downtown tree canopy expansion, July 17, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The painted route begins at the Hilton City Center Hotel at 18th and California and travels through downtown to 14th and Larimer. Get walkin’.

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