Here’s a free biking tour of Denver’s murals, curated by muralists Jaime Molina and Pedro Barrios

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A mural by Emmanuel Martinez beneath Speer Boulevard along Little Raven Street. Sept. 10, 2020.

A mural by Emmanuel Martinez beneath Speer Boulevard along Little Raven Street. Sept. 10, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
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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 arteach curated by a different prominent local muralist.

This week, we have two curators: Jaime Molina and Pedro Barrios, a pair of Denver-based muralists who call themselves “The Worst Crew.” Molina and Barrios have been mentioned by several of our previous curators as being both excellent artists and humans. Since Barrios and Molina often collaborate on their murals, it made sense for them to collaborate on this tour, too.

The Worst Crew’s tour takes us to the Cherry Creek bike path, which they said is lined with a ton of excellent murals. Their favorites are highlighted below.  Now that the sun’s out again, spend the weekend outside biking to their picks!

 

A mural by Emmanuel Martinez beneath Speer Boulevard along Little Raven Street. Sept. 10, 2020.

A mural by Emmanuel Martinez beneath Speer Boulevard along Little Raven Street. Sept. 10, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

WHO: Emmanuel Martinez who, as mentioned in Sandra Fettingis‘s tour, is an internationally known fine artist and muralist based in Colorado.

WHERE: An underpass at Speer Blvd. and Little Raven St. This piece is not technically on the Cherry Creek Bike Path, but was the one around which Barrios and Molina built the rest of the tour.

The Worst Crew’s Take:

Barrios: “We kind of decided to start with a piece that we’ve always loved. I’ve always loved this since moving to Denver.”

Molina: “Both of us, I think, agree that this starting point was our favorite piece. Even historically speaking, this guy has been around for a long time, and kind of predates the popularity of street art and all that. So, we not only wanted to highlight the piece because it is so awesome, but also this artist Emmanuel Martinez, his career as a whole. He’s just kind of an inspiring figure, and such a strong presence in the community here in Denver.”

Barrios: “Just the color use and the imagery … It’s a really fun and instantly iconic mural that I’ve always loved ever since I moved. Like, driving into Denver and visiting- because I used to live up in the mountains- I would come down every once in a while, and the first time I saw it, there weren’t as many murals per se back then, and this one has always been absolutely amazing. And it still looks great after all these years.”

Molina: “And I always appreciate it when I see art that has different symbols and different little elements that create a narrative. And it’s really open. So I feel like there’s a lot of people that could look at it and be interested just for the elements, the colors, these huge faces with sunglasses. But then also for people that want to try and figure out what’s going on, I really like that there’s a lot of different possibilities of how it could be read.

“And it’s huge, too. It’s a really big piece. So it’s really fun to interact with. I’ve seen a lot of people take photos in front of it. So it serves a lot of different purposes.”

Barrios: “And it’s also a little bit hidden as well, which I think is kind of fun for people to find. Just because it’s a little bit off the beaten path.”

A mural by Ethos and Onesto at Lincoln Street along the Cherry Creek Trail. Sept. 10, 2020.

A mural by Ethos and Onesto at Lincoln Street along the Cherry Creek Trail. Sept. 10, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

 

WHO:  Brazilian artists Claudio Ethos and Alex “Onesto” Hornest

WHERE:  Speer Blvd. and Lincoln St.

The Worst Crew’s Take:

Molina: “The UAF (Urban Art Fund) is a mural grant that happens — well, it used to happen every year — and Pedro and I were lucky enough to be included the first year they did it. And they also brought out two artists. So we wanted to feature their piece.”

Barrios:  “And what I love about it — I mean, aside from getting to meet them and hang out with them — is just, their technique of using the cans, the spray paint and everything, was absolutely beautiful.”

Molina: “We were there, so we got to watch them paint it. They were super fun to meet and get to know. So I guess maybe it’s a little more personal for that piece for me, just getting to interact with those guys and watch them do it. But if you were to look at it, you can see it definitely has a fun distorted quality. But like Pedro just said, the technique that they use is super interesting, and it’s definitely a very South American style, I would say. Like, getting the paint to splatter out in little bits rather than creating these really hard lines. It almost looks like it’s stippled with a pencil, just tons of little dots.

A mural by Bruno Nevelli at Little Raven Street along the Cherry Creek Trail. Sept. 10, 2020.

A mural by Bruno Nevelli at Little Raven Street along the Cherry Creek Trail. Sept. 10, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

WHO: Bruno Novelli, an interdisciplinary Brazilian artist.

WHERE: Speer Blvd. and Little Raven St.

The Worst Crew’s Take:

Molina: “He’s from São Paulo. And the piece itself… it’s kind of abstracted, but the letters spell out, ‘This river is alive.’ And he was very conscious of how beautiful the city was, and how we have this beautiful park and this river, and everything’s just so vibrant. You know, in a city like São Paulo, if there’s a river somewhere, it’s polluted, and you definitely don’t go in the water. So I think for him, it was a stark contrast to see that bike trail in Denver.”

Barrios: “That piece is very geometric and graphic.  I just think it was a really beautiful, striking piece. The color use and the graphic nature, next to this wildlife, is just really striking.  Especially right by the water.”

A mural by Gemma Danielle at Market Street along the Cherry Creek Trail. Sept. 10, 2020.

A mural by Gemma Danielle at Market Street along the Cherry Creek Trail. Sept. 10, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

WHO: Gemma Danielle, a fine artist and reiki instructor based in Colorado. Unfortunately, it looks as though this piece has been altered. You can see what it used to look like here.

WHERE: Speer Blvd. and Marker St.

The Worst Crew’s Take:

Molina: “She makes these mandala-type pieces, typically. And with that one, there’s so many connected lines and it has such a cool rhythm. And just the overall effect. And that one is kind of a larger piece for her, mural-wise. So it kind of has this really cool presence. The background has this really dark, rich blue. And then it has these silver painted lines… I don’t know, it’s just a beautiful piece. I think one of my favorite pieces of hers for sure — I mean, all her work’s nice, but that one, I think, is the most striking for me.”

Barrios: “I’ve worked with Gemma in the past. And just her technique, and line work, and patience… It just requires so much patience to do her kind of work. Which is really incredible, and kind of soothing to look at.”

A mural by Rather Severe at 11th Avenue along the Cherry Creek Trail. Sept. 10, 2020.

A mural by Rather Severe at 11th Avenue along the Cherry Creek Trail. Sept. 10, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

WHO: “Rather Severe” (Travis Czekalski and Jon Stommel), a Portland-based art duo previously mentioned in Olive Moya’s mural tour.

WHERE:  11th and Speer Blvd., along a staircase down to the creek

The Worst Crew’s Take:

Molina: “All their stuff is great. They have a few other pieces here. But that piece, I think, is a really nice one. It’s just super fun. Just this really cool, psychedelic, kind of… I don’t know, it’s just a really fun little universe to get into.”

Barrios: “I agree. I think for me, what I love about it is the use of the space. I think it’s a really successful piece, and it’s really whimsical and bright and fun, colorful. And there’s just a ton going on, but still very cohesive throughout. Just a really nice piece.”

Molina: “It reminds me of layers of sediment. You know, when you cut away a mountain and you have all these crazy layers of different colored rock. That’s what it always reminded me of.

“But that one also is nice because it’s a little more multifaceted. It’s not just a piece on a flat wall. It kind of has more dimension to it.”

A mural by Alexandre Orion at Lincoln Street along the Cherry Creek Trail. Sept. 10, 2020.

A mural by Alexandre Orion at Lincoln Street along the Cherry Creek Trail. Sept. 10, 2020.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

WHO:  Alexandre Orion, a Brazilian multimedia artist and muralist

WHERE: Speer Blvd. and Broadway

The Worst Crew’s Take:

Molina: “The end of the tour for us on that stretch would be one by Alexandre Orion. He was another character Pedro I got to know, but the piece itself is beautiful. Just the patterning of it, and the repetition, and the portrait, and it’s kind of this distorted view, and the sheer size of it… It’s really nice piece.”

Barrios:  “There’s two portraits of both kids, and then they basically mirror each other. But they’re huge. This one would be really hard to miss. He uses all of these native patterns. It’s beautiful. I think the patterning work and seeing how he did that was unreal, just an absolutely incredible amount of detail.  And he did one of them with stencils, and the amount of work just to do that is more than I can even comprehend. And then the actual piece, the rendering is beautiful. They’re distorted to look like, if you’re looking at it straight on, it kind of looks elongated and distorted. But if you look at it from the right, perfect angle, it makes complete sense. Like, the rendering in the child is like perfectly proportioned from one particular viewpoint.”

When you’re in the area….

 

🍺 Branded Oak Brewing Company

WHERE: 470 Broadway

WHAT: A brewery with a large patio and seasonal barrel-aged beers.

The Worst Crew’s Take: 

Barrios:  “It’s a local brewery. We’ve been lucky enough to work with the owner in the past, and it’s just a really great spot. Really good product.”

Molina:  “There’s actually a nice piece by Thomas Evans- by Detour-on that building, on the side.

“We kind of threw it out there as well, because if you’re on a bike, and you want to stop and grab a beer there, it’s a really good place to get a beer.”

Barrios:  “For me, personally, I’d say it’s just the owner and the product that they make. I mean, it’s just amazing. And he’s always been really supportive of the arts, which I really appreciate too. It’s a great spot.”

Molina: “Same for me. I mean their beer is awesome, but Will, the owner, and the head brewer there, they’re both just super nice people. They’re really good with their customers, and I just appreciate their approach.”

Barrios: “All their stuff is like, small batch, barrel-aged beer, mostly. But we were actually there like a couple weeks ago, and they had some sour that was incredible. It was so good.”

Molina:  “Everything there is super good, though. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed.”

 

🎨 HR Meininger Company

WHERE:  499 Broadway

WHAT: A large art supply store.

The Worst Crew’s Take:

Barrios: “So right across right across the street from that place is Meininger Art Supplies, which is a staple in the community for your art supply needs. And they’ve also been very supportive of the arts along the way and had a few mural projects of their own, like in their parking lot.

“I mean, it’s definitely the spot to grab art supplies. There’s not really a lot of options, but we don’t really need a lot of options when they have such a great business. It’s always a fun place to go into because after going in for so many years, you get to know all the staff, and I always tend to run into an artist that I haven’t seen in a while.  I always go in with the intention of being there for a minute and end up being there for like an hour and a half.”

Molina:  “It’s also a good place even if you’re not an artist and you don’t have any desire to buy art supplies.  I always go there for random gift ideas, because they have a lot of fun stuff in the front of the store, and a really nice book selection, and magazines, and just kind of random fun gifts and stuff. So,  a good store for anybody, really.”

 

🍷 Baker Wine and Spirits

WHERE:  440 Broadway

WHAT: A liquor store offering craft beer, wine and spirits.

The Worst Crew’s Take:

Molina: “That store has this really unique collection of liquor and spirits and beer. It’s not just a typical liquor store. So, if you’re looking for something kind of obscure or just something really good, but maybe you wouldn’t find it in any other store. I stopped in there the other day and got some vermouth spritzers. I’d never even heard of them, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever had.”

Barrios: “The owner is amazing. Big fan.”

 

🍸 Canopy 

WHERE:  8 N Broadway

WHAT: An ambient bar decorated with The Worst Crew’s own work.

The Worst Crew’s Take:

Barrios: “We got the opportunity to be part of the build-out of the space. And the whole space is kind of geared to highlight the art, which I think is absolutely incredible. So their whole concept revolved around our work, which is kind of unheard of as far as a business is concerned. So it’s just kind of like a staple for us. We love going there. They have a great atmosphere. It’s just a really cool place. Very different from anything else in the area- or in Denver, I would say.”

Molina: “And they actually have a pretty big expanded patio because of COVID. They have a ton of picnic tables and stuff set up. I think they’ve even… it’s in the street, they pretty much permitted that whole stretch of parking there in front to be their kind of makeshift patio. So in spite of the restrictions and all that, they’ve managed to open it up a little bit. So it’s still not a bad place to go get a drink.”

Barrios: “The whole concept of this space is basically kind of meant to look like a New York outdoor courtyard. So there’s these hanging lights and whatnot. And then that’s where the artwork comes in. It’s kind of cemented for you to feel like you’re outside,  and seem like a mural per se. But our piece in there is multi-dimensional. It’s more of an installation, I would say, than, like, a painting. It’s just something really different that we haven’t really recreated again to that scale.”

Molina: “And they’ve added other elements- like, there’s another mural kind of opposite ours inside. There’s this neon light installation that seems to be a huge social media photo op, and even around the corner there’s a photo booth, and there’s this custom poster thing… but I just  really appreciate that they are so conscious of making  such a unique space, and the owner is super nice, super supportive.”

 

🍔 Sputnik

WHERE:  3 S Broadway

WHAT: A late night bar and restaurant with vegetarian and vegan options.

The Worst Crew’s Take:

Barrios: “It’s kind of a staple, I would say, as far as bars are concerned in the city. It seems like, when we’re in that area, we always either start the night or end the night there.  They have food until pretty late night, which is kind of unheard of in Denver, unfortunately. And it’s just really local. I just love the atmosphere. They always have art shows in there, so there’s always something new hanging on the walls. Just a really cool, unique spot.”

Molina: “I really like it there. My wife and I will go there to eat when we’re around the neighborhood just because they have pretty good vegetarian and vegan options, which is not very common, it seems. Like there’s maybe a veggie burger or something on the menu sometimes, but this place has,  almost for everything, a veggie or vegan option. And it’s really good food.

“Pedro and I’ve met there countless times to plan out a project and grab a beer and sit in a booth and sketch.  It’s a bar, but it almost at times has a coffee shop vibe, where it’s just a cool hangout spot and a place where you can go and work. And during the day, they serve brunch and stuff. So it kind of has a lot of different purposes depending on what time of day it is.”

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