You asked: WTF is up with that West Colfax rocket ship?

Here’s the real story and the fictional story.
4 min. read
The spacecraft built by Handsome Little Devils at the corner of Raleigh Street and West Colfax Avenue. March 24, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Reader Steve Strunk asked: "At the southwest corner of West Colfax and Raleigh is an old closed service station. On the Raleigh side is an old rocket ship. Story?"

Story indeed, Steve.

We reached Cole Huling, artistic director with Handsome Little Devils, who had a hand in the chrome colossus.

"I can give you the real story and the fiction," she told us.

Did you know you can ask us stuff? You totally can.

Let's start with the ficton.

"One night, the lights were flickering and there was a strange sound," said Huling, who lives next door. "In the morning, we came out and there was this spacecraft there."

But she soon learned it was not a War of the Worlds situation.

"The aliens were arriving not because they wanted to take over Earth and not because they wanted to take over our resources," she continued, "but simply because they had run out of gas."

What happened to them next - at least what's declassified - remains a mystery.

"These are the aliens who came out of the space ship," Huling said.
Photos by Marsden Media, courtes

But really...

Huling, her husband and brother-in-law wanted to instill some vibes and mystery at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival a few years back. They drove to an aircraft graveyard, which was in Greeley at the time, and gathered some parts of decommissioned planes.

"We went though and picked out some pieces, not knowing what the spaceship would look like," she said.

Then, they began to fabricate.

A few days before the festival, she said, the team "crash landed" the vessel in Cherry Creek, offering "no explanation." Then, when the event began, they showed up with aliens and "Men In Black"-esque characters and brought the installation to life.

They needed somewhere to stash the ship once the festivities ended.

"We just decided, you know what, our corner needs a little sprucing up," she said.

So the interstellar craft came to live at the corner of Raleigh Street and West Colfax Avenue.

Mike Huling, of Handsome Little Devils, perches atop a human cannon inside his Lakewood studio. March 24, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Inside the strange world of Handsome Little Devils' Lakewood studio. March 24, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Their company, Handsome Little Devils, specializes in kinetic artwork, installations and immersive event planning. During the pandemic, when events became impossible, they had to "pivot" to something with more social distancing. The solution: Project Joy Bomb, a series of COVID-19-appropriate pop-up events that they've curated in Denver and some other cities. One of these involved a sci-fi dance party around the spaceship.

Huling said she has some security cameras pointed at the sculpture, and said they've captured a "constant flow" of curious humanoids in the last two years. People show up dressed in "cyberpunk" and take selfies. Others just stop and stare.

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There's more in stock for the future of this futuristic prop.

The place where it rests now is the long-awaited home of something called the "Colfax Country Club," an idea for a boutique motel that they hope will become a cult classic destination in town. Huling and her Handsome Little Devils colleagues are helping out with art direction in partnership with Danny Newman, an entrepreneur who currently owns My Brother's Bar.

Newman said the pandemic set the project back, but he's still hopeful the ball will continue to roll as we exit the worst of the COVID-19 days.

Huling told us they're not waiting to keep adding strange art to the lot, in an effort to make sure the motel and property become "a point of curiosity."

"There's also been talk of building a full space station, which is underway," she said.

The spacecraft built by Handsome Little Devils at the corner of Raleigh Street and West Colfax Avenue. March 24, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

They're working on some mobile props that will add to the retro-futuristic vibe on the block, including a big tank that they hope to transform into a "dining pod." She expects some of these elements will be absorbed into the Country Club's final look and feel, though there are some official city rules that might limit their creativity.

Passers-by can expect to see the corner change as time goes on. Huling said their next project has already gotten funding from the West Colfax Business Improvement District.

"Stay tuned, because there's going to be a really cool little free library coming soon," she teased.

Correction: Huling's name was originally misspelled in this story.

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