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 Sandra Fettingis, a fine artist and muralist from Chicago. Now based in Denver, Fettingis is known around town for her abstract, geometric designs, some of which have been featured in our previous mural tours.
Hop in your car and check out Fettingis’s own favorites below!
WHO: Emanuel Martinez, an internationally known fine artist and muralist based in Colorado
WHERE: Mestizo-Curtis Pool, 3181 Champa St. This piece it titled “Eyes on the Park.”
Fettingis’ take: “I love this piece so much. I just love looking at it. It makes me so happy, and I hope it sticks around for a long time.
“That piece was painted in 1971, which I think is so awesome because it’s still in pretty great condition. I feel like it looks like maybe it was just painted today. It has a very current feel. And I’ve always really liked this piece. It’s one of the first ones that I noticed when I moved to Denver, and I was immediately drawn to it. I was like, ‘Oh, that looks so contemporary and modern!’ I think he did an awesome job of utilizing the lines of the existing architecture to weave into the piece itself.
“There’s just something about that piece. Maybe it’s the eyes, and that you can’t see the eyes. I want to just stare at it and learn the composition method. But I also really think it’s a great, important piece for the community, because it represents a range of people. And they’re all painted in that same style, which to me is suggesting that, you know, we’re all the same. We’re all connected.”
WHO: Evan Hecox, an abstract graphic artist and illustrator whose work is frequently influenced by travel
WHERE: The Dairy Block alleyway downtown
Fettingis’ take: “I actually have a piece in this alley as well, that several of us collaborated on by way of color. We were all brought in when that alleyway was completely bare. And then they wanted to marry the pieces. So we just decided, ‘Let’s do it by color.’
“When I found out that Evan was a part of the mix, I was so excited and really humbled at the same time, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece by Evan that I don’t like. He’s primarily an illustrator, and he illustrates street city scenes, and a lot of times it seems like maybe they’re in Hong Kong or Japan. But I really, really love his graphic scenes. They transport me to places I want to go. I guess it kind of reminds me of traveling, or my time in Chicago. And they’re hyper-graphic, which I absolutely love. The minimal color palette.
“And with this piece, because, this whole alleyway was a collab, there’s three little doorways in there. That’s the London Police. That’s a different set of artists.
“But what I love about this piece and his work is that he cuts up the imagery with negative space or just big fields of color. And so your eye has to kind of make up the rest. I also really admire that he found a really great way of navigating that wall and all of those vents, because as an artist, if I saw that, I would be like, ‘OK, well, this is going to be a challenge.’ And I think his execution was really successful.”
WHO: UcSepia Ozjuah, a self-taught street artist based in Denver whose work features female characters called “Ozjuahzians”
WHERE: Nuggs Icecream, 5135 E. Colfax Ave.
Fettingis’ take: “I’ve always been interested in her work. She paints these free-spirited girls named Ozjuahzians. They’ve just got such a light, magical quality to them that I am really drawn to. And also, I think maybe because it’s so different from my work. But the overall feel is so soft, and I just think that they’re so lovely. And as you look longer at each of them, you discover more and more. Like in this one, one of the ice creams, there’s a little kitty in there. It’s really, really sweet and cute. All the little bees around it are just so precious and cute. I think it’s really cool how she makes you look at the piece for a while and question what you’re looking at. And the little rosy cheeks are just so sweet.
“And you can tell that it’s spray painted. I think she primarily uses spray paint, which, many of us use both. But I really appreciate that about her work, that it’s super-obvious it’s spray paint .
“I think her figures represent, like, a strong female representation. But in a very unique way, like in her way. They’re often depicted all by themselves, which I feel like enhances the individual. She has a couple of pieces where she paints several figures together, but mostly I’ve seen single figures, which to me, it points to individual power.”
WHO: Pedro Barrios and Jaime Molina, a pair of Denver-based artists and frequent collaborators who call themselves “The Worst Crew”
WHERE: A wall outside Alamo Drafthouse, 4255 W. Colfax Ave.
Fettingis’ take: “Their style together is so recognizable, and they’re all over town. I really like their work. I really like them as people. They’re really awesome and really sweet. And I think it’s so cool that they work together so fluidly. And their name, The Worst Crew, is just hilarious. It’s one of those things where I’m like, ‘Man, I wish I would have thought of that!’ It’s so good.
“It was hard to choose of their pieces because I like a lot of them. But this piece in particular, I feel like it’s a perfect use of combining art and the given architecture, which I’m a big fan of. I’m a big fan of tailoring a piece for specific space. I really appreciate when artists take into account everything that’s surrounding the environment that piece is gonna go into, because for me, I feel like it makes the piece a lot more impactful.
“And with this piece, this figure is just chilling out in this long rectangular space. And I feel like it looks like he belongs there, like it’s his spot. And as somebody also who is not a native, I have really grown to appreciate the more relaxed feeling that’s in Colorado and that the culture in general appreciates the mountains and, you know, just more of like a chilled-out vibe. And this piece to me reflects that.
“And on top of it, I love their color palettes, always, including this one. They’re so subtle and relaxing, but really impactful at the same time.”
WHO: Patrick Kane McGregor, a Denver-based artist best known for his hyper-realistic depictions of animals; Anthony Garcia, a Denver native and muralist who also co-founded the artist collective Birdseed Collective; and Nack Andarm, a print artist and muralist now working out of Georgia.
WHERE: The intersection of Tremont Street and Park Avenue
Fettingis’ take: “I’ve really enjoyed this one for a while. First of all, collaborating with three people is not always an easy feat. And I feel like they were very, very successful in this collaboration, to marry all three styles.
“I think the composition is really great. You know, like, the fact that you don’t have to show the entire elephant on the left for it to be a strong image. And the contrast between the realism and the graphic patterning is really lovely. And then the pallet. The muted grays with the bold colors is really, really nice. And it’s almost as if those elephants are sort of emerging from the gray concrete. So in that sense, again, this is another example of a piece working really, really nicely with the environment.
“I assume it’s a mom and child, so I think that that’s a really sweet message. Especially in a residential neighborhood, which it’s situated in, that’s a sweet message to spread. Family care and love and taking care of one another.”
WHO: Marquis “Retna” Lewis, an LA-based graffiti artist who invented his own script, seen in the mural above
WHERE: An outer wall of The Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop.
Fettingis’ take: “I’m stoked that we have this piece in Denver. I think it’s really special. Just the other day, I saw it for the first time in person, and it totally blew me away. I mean, it’s huge. The sheer size of it was super-captivating. Plus it speaks to my minimal nature as far as palette. It’s just white paint on a gray building. And you don’t see that a lot. And I always really appreciate that. I really, really love it.
“It’s so soothing and relaxing. And I’ve seen videos of him painting, and he pulls all of those long vertical lines and all of his symbols by hand, with a single brush. It’s really relaxing to watch. It’s really soothing. And as somebody who has more of a formal method in my painting style… I’m not sure how much of a plan he has. Although I know that those symbols are like a constructed language, and they all are supposed to, ‘spell out’ a phrase or a group of words. But when he’s working, it totally appears like he’s just naturally going with the flow and sort of allowing the moment to guide his work. So for me, as somebody who goes into a setting knowing exactly what I’m gonna do, I really admire that.”
When you’re in the area….
🧘♀️ Alchemy Ritual Goods
WHERE: 2536 Champa St.
WHAT: A woman-owned metaphysical supply store
Fettingis’ take: “I just discovered it because I got to spend five hours straight there for The Sassport Project with Babe Walls. So that’s the spot that they paired me with, and it was like a perfect match. I’m a meditator. I’m not overly spiritual, but I appreciate it. And I think cultivating a spiritual life is important.
“So this shop meets all your needs. You can find stones and incense and literature. And they also offer classes and talks. And it’s just a great little cozy space. I felt so comfortable in there. There’s a little seating area. I think a lot of the community just comes in and hangs out, and they talk spiritual life and support each other. It’s a really lovely little space. And the owners are really, really lovely, too.
“I spent money there. I bought a bunch of stones, but I also got this herbal CBD… Like, I don’t want to call it a cigarette or a joint. I don’t know what they call them — like, wraps? But it was a little smokeable item that was CBD infused, with a couple of other herbs. And I believe they’re locally made by another female. It was lovely. And she has several different kinds. Like, say, you want to enhance your dreams or, you know, you’re on your cycle. So she tailors herbs toward a certain outcome. And she said that she’s been selling out of them, too. So they’ve been a very popular item.”
WHERE: 3401 E Colfax Ave.
WHAT: A small, relaxed neighborhood cocktail bar
Fettingis’ take: “It’s a small little bar. It’s a good chill environment. They have DJs sometimes, and the cocktails aren’t outrageously priced. And they have a rotating snack menu where sometimes they have guests. People come in and pick special items, which are always delicious. The bathrooms in there are painted by RUMTUM, and they’re awesome. I think they’re black and white, and then they just plug in a colored light bulb. So each of them seems like this trippy environment and you’re surrounded by all of his interesting imagery.”
🍔 Little Beast Street Food
WHERE: 2730 E Colfax Ave.
WHAT: A small, quick, affordable street food joint
Fettingis’ take: “So, Little Beast is just a small little joint that serves street comfort food. I think it’s three guys. They’re previous employees of Table Six, which is a restaurant that’s been in Denver for a very long time. So the three of them started their own business. And they’re not that pretentious. It’s a really great price point, and they have rotating specials. They have been my go-to place for a to-go burger. It has incredible flavor. It’s just so much flavor. It’s juicy. I think they use high-quality meat and ingredients, and you can tell. I mean, the burger is, like, $9 and for what it is, it’s so great. Like, why would you go anywhere else?”
🌻 City Floral
WHERE:1440 Kearney St.
WHAT: A plant and garden supply store and greenhouse.
Fettingis’ take: “I’m a big plant person, and I need to go to a nursery regularly, just to kind of fill that side of me. And if I just need to have that fix real quick, and I don’t want to drive too far, I’ll go to City Grow. It’s an actual greenhouse. You go in, and it feels hot and humid and even if you’re not going to buy anything, it’s just really fun to walk around and be around all those plants. And they also have two really pretty cats. I’m a cat person, too, without cats right now, so that makes me really happy. They are these really cute, gray cats, and they mostly mind their own business. They don’t really want you to touch them, but they’re really pretty to look at.”
🎨 The Museum of Contemporary Art
WHERE: 1485 Delgany St.
WHAT: A contemporary art space with rotating exhibits and a rooftop cafe
Fettingis’ take: “I used to work there, so it was like my second home for a very, very long time. I started there when they opened the building. And for me, coming from Chicago, it was a big deal. I was like, ‘Yay! We have a contemporary awesome museum with amazing architecture!’ And I was so stoked to work in that environment. I feel like they’re just a really great resource for the community. And they have awesome rotating shows and programming for all ages. And just spending time in the building alone because it’s so beautiful and unique and contemporary is worth a visit to me. Enjoying the rooftop as well. I feel like they’re a great resource for the community. Because for me, as an employee, and a visitor, too, they really expanded my view of contemporary art and what defines contemporary art, because they’re bringing in people from all over the world… It’s very intentional, and I think more and more they’re responding to things that are happening in the world, which is really, really important.”