After receiving several requests from you, our readers, for recommendations on how to find the coolest street art in Denver, it became clear to us that Denverites have an appetite for art that can be enjoyed in a safe, socially-distanced way. That’s why every Friday, we’ll be dropping a walking, driving or biking tour of Denver’s street art, each curated by a different prominent local muralist.
This week’s curator is Alexandrea Pangburn, a Colorado-based street artist who specializes in hyper-realistic depictions of animals. Originally from Kentucky, Pangburn moved to Golden in 2017. As she immersed herself in RiNo’s street art scene, she came to recognize a need for a safe, inclusive space for women street artists, and founded the Babe Walls Festival to be that space. Now, Babe Walls operates as both a collective and a celebration of female and non-binary artists.
This year’s Babe Walls Festival will take place in Westminster next weekend. Until then, check out Pangburn’s favorite murals around town.
WHERE: 3198 Blake St., across from Improper City
WHO: PichiAvo, a Spanish artist duo known for urban artwork that blends classical art with contemporary graffiti. They created this piece for CRUSH 2018.
Panburn’s take: :“I’ve been a huge fan of theirs for forever. So in 2018, when I heard that they were coming, I was just super-stoked. Both of these two dudes have graffiti backgrounds, and they kind of tie this fine art imagery with the chaos of graffiti. And they use a lot of bright colors.
“The composition of it is really striking. Any piece that they do is just a showstopper. So I was super-stoked to be able to a) meet them and b) just see that piece go up…. I also was just fan-girling out on them, so I’m sure I was being super-awkward.”
WHERE: 3675 Wynkoop St.
WHO: Squidlicker, aka Lauren YS, is an LA-based artist whose work has appeared all over the world. She’s known for her dreamy, colorful murals influenced by psychedelia, mythology, love, death and her Asian-American heritage.
Panburn’s take: “I used to work over by Zeppelin, so I got to see that piece a lot. And I just loved her female figures. They’re kind of fantasy-like, kind of witchy. They’re fun. I love her pieces. It’s a really long building, and the use of space was really striking to me. And also just her colors. She uses a lot of purples and blues, and it’s very moody. It just has a lot of energy to it.”
WHERE: 38th and Brighton, outside of the Pepsi Bottling Plant
WHO: Jeremy Burns, a Denver artist best known for creating optical illusions using finned walls like this one
Pangburn’s take: “He just has an intense talent to be able to render those finned buildings in a way where it’s an optical illusion. So it’ll be one thing when you’re driving up… it’s, like, a running man, and then as you keep moving you see the colors shift. And it always blows my mind every time I pass it.”
WHERE: 38th and Walnut, outside of INDUSTRY RiNo Station
WHO: A collab between Patrick McGregor, a Denver street artist who frequently paints hyper-real depictions of dogs, and Adrian Avila, a Cuban artist based out of Miami
Pangburn’s take: “I’m a big dog person, so I’ve always been a huge fan of Patrick because he paints cool dogs everywhere. The doberman on there is Patrick McGregor’s doberman.
“And then Adrian, we brought him in for CRUSH last year and he did this female figure…he’s well-known for doing these hyper-realism portraits of these women and then tying in geometric shapes around their heads so it looks like they’re wearing a geometric crown, so you can only see from their nose down.
“I just like the composition. It’s a lot of blues, and definitely a moody piece for sure. But it’s cool because there are puppies and dogs. It’s very fun.”
WHERE: 2350 Arapahoe St., in back of Redline
WHO: A collaboration between Max Sansing, a Chicago-based portrait artist, and well-known Denver artist Thomas “Detour” Evans from last year’s CRUSH. This mural will be painted over for this year’s festival, so you only have a few weeks left to view it.
Pangburn’s take: “I just loved that collaboration that they did last year. It’s definitely a blend of style, but I feel like it has more of Max’s staple and paint dripping. Max Sansing always has this like drippy paint where their skin colors are always different blues and greens and oranges and red.
“And these are real kids that they did portraits of. They did this mural reveal to these kids, and it was super emotional. But, just like how important it is to give the community a connection to the art… and Detour does a really great job of that.”
WHERE: Across from Stem Ciders (2811 Walnut St.)
WHO: Denver street artists Hiero Veiga, Thomas “Detour” Evans and Giovannie “Just” Dixon. This portrait of Breonna Taylor was created as part of Veiga’s and Detour’s Spray Their Name campaign.
Pangburn’s take: “I know Hiero. I met him at CRUSH last year, and so to be able to get to know him a little bit more throughout the year, and just understand where his head is as an artist, and his motivation, and the power that he has brought to this community, has been really cool. Especially how the Spray Their Name campaign kind of started here with Hiero and Detour.
“And I feel like that, being one of the first pieces, is iconic. That one was really, really pretty. It’s just a stunning portrait. And it was just done in a time where it was super-relevant and needed.”
WHERE: 2669 Larimer St., on Denver Central Market
WHO: Charles “Taste” Lewis, a Denver-based graffiti artist, and Sam”Smug One” Bates, an Australian artist who’s known worldwide for his photo-realistic portraiture. The pair came together to collaborate on this piece for CRUSH last year.
Pangburn’s take: “I had a huge crush on Smug’s artwork. So to be able to meet him in person and understand that his background is in graffiti, and then he just kind of moved to this hyper-realism…He doesn’t do any gridding at all! No projections. He just does these amazing huge-scale realisms. So it was super-cool to be able to meet him and see the process. I made a point last year to really watch him and try and pick up some tips from what he was doing and pick his brain a little bit.
“And then Taste is a friend of mine that I met through being in the art scene. And he’s been super-helpful with my spray paint evolution. So it was neat to see Taste come together with Smug. And I know they’ve been buddies for a while, but just to be able to bring back the culture of graffiti and show the evolution of it.”
While you’re there…
WHERE: 1280 25th St.
WHAT: A bar and cafe inside the Ramble Hotel
Pangburn’s take: “I’m not a coffee drinker. I used to drink coffee all the time, but I’ve cut out caffeine. Instead of getting coffee, I’m just five years old and I got a hot chocolate. I’m a big hot chocolate connoisseur! I don’t like my hot chocolate to be syrupy or, like, thick-feeling. I’d rather it be more latte-ish. They do a banger hot chocolate, but I know that they do good coffee, too.”
🍻 Stem Ciders
WHERE: 2811 Walnut St.
WHAT: A cider bar and brewpub
Pangburn’s take: If you’re not a beer person, Stem Ciders is really great. They have a bourbon barrel cider that is amazing. I know it’s seasonal — I don’t know if they have it right now — but it’s really good when they do have it!
WHERE: 3636 Chestnut Pl.
WHAT: An old metalworking facility that’s been converted into a restaurant, distillery and artist studio space
Pangburn’s take: “It’s a really good spot. And I actually curate the art gallery at that spot. We have a new artist every single month. I’ve focused on up-and-coming artists for that gallery specifically, because it’s really hard in Denver as an up-and-coming artist to get gallery shows. So I wanted to be able to give these artists an opportunity to have this space to be able to do a huge body of work, and then within that space to give them an opportunity to do a mural.
“So for August, it’s this artist. His name is Patrick Maxcy. But he does kind of like character animals in a realism sense, but they have their own expressionism that I think is super fun.”
WHAT: A contemporary art center and gallery that supports emerging artists
WHERE: 2350 Arapahoe St.
Panburn’s take: “Red Line Gallery is a fantastic art gallery. It has some really great artists. They always have a really cool show going on.”
WHERE: 2949 W. Alameda Ave., on the southeast side of Diego Pellicer
WHO: Forrest J. Morrison, a Denver-based artist who plays with a variety of styles including, as seen here, Western and realism
Pangburn’s take: “I didn’t know who did this mural for the longest time. I couldn’t find out who did it. I have never seen any of his other work anywhere, and I don’t really know what he’s doing right now, but I love that piece so much. And so I hope to meet him one day and talk about it. It was, like, super weird.
“It’s stunning. It’s like a renaissance painting. I’m a sucker for renaissance hyper-realism, especially if people are incorporating animals. That’s kind of how my work is centered, around hyper-realism. So for me, to have inspiration, motivation from people that are better than I am, makes me want to be a better artist.”
WHERE: 1300 Adams St.
WHO: Marissa and Nick Napolitano are a brother-sister duo whose work blends hyper-realism and figurative imagery
Pangburn’s take: “The piece is called “Helen.” It’s this woman, and she’s kind of looking at the viewer with a smirk on her face. She’s got this crocheted neck scarf on, and the crochet portion is really cool. The texture that they were able to get with paint is really striking.
“I’ve never met Nick, but I just met Marissa this year organizing Babe Walls. I really wanted her to be involved because she just crushes her work. And she’s super-nice, and super-driven. And also just very classical in her painting. It was really refreshing to see people still work like that.”
WHERE: 501 E. 17th Ave., on the side of Ace Eat Serve
WHO: Casey Kawaguchi, a Denver-based artist whose paintings of female figures — inspired by his Japanese heritage — are easily recognizable around town.
Pangburn’s take: “I really appreciate how he brings his culture into his work. It’s just really interesting and fun to see how he continually evolved that character, just like in their positioning or how they’re represented. His stuff is also very iconic. Like, you can see one of Casey’s works and you’d be like, Casey did that. He uses very limited color palettes. It’s usually black, gray, white and red.
“I think this is one of his best ones. It was a hard building. Like, there’s a lot of things to work around. It wasn’t just a nice flat wall. And he did a really great job just composing that mural. She’s in a very striking pose, a very powerful pose.”
While you’re there…
🍜 Ace Eat Serve
WHERE: 501 E. 17th Ave.
WHAT: An Asian-fusion restaurant with table tennis and an outdoor patio.
Pangburn’s take: “I love Ace’s duck ramen. Their food is amazing. So you can go get some ramen and see Casey’s artwork — he’s got another mural inside.”