The Chicano Humanities and Arts Council will return to Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe later this year

A generous donation made the move possible after the art nonprofit was priced out of Denver last year.
3 min. read
CHAC Gallery’s Grand Opening in Lakewood.
Courtesy of CHAC Gallery.

After being priced out of Denver to Lakewood's 40 West Art District in 2022, the Chicano Humanities and Arts District will move back to a permanent home in the Art District on Santa Fe Drive.

Last year, CHAC learned that a stranger named Kyle Schneider had read Denverite's coverage of the nonprofit's move to Lakewood. After his mother, Katherine Payge, owner of a gallery space at 834 Santa Fe Dr., passed away, he decided to give the space to CHAC, board member Renee Fajardo told Denverite earlier this year.

"After 45 years of existence, we are finally the proprietors of our own gallery," CHAC posted to social media.

CHAC will host a grand opening in October at its news space to coincide with the start of its annual Dia de Los Muertos exhibition, and it is billing the move as a "Return to Aztlan."

Starting in July, the organization will host a series of VIP events, Fajardo said.

The group is trying to raise $1 million over the next two years to cover moving and remodeling and renovation costs and to create an endowment.

"This is the first time our organization has owned a property and although we will not have a mortgage, we now have expenses that come with owning property," CHAC wrote. "The Santa Fe space needs to be remodeled to reflect the needs of our CHAC Community."

CHAC, which has rented for its 44 years in operation, will own its new gallery at 834 Santa Fe Dr.

That's a block from its longtime gallery at 772 and 774 Santa Fe Dr. that the group lost in 2018.

Soon it moved down the street to 222 Santa Fe Dr. Foot traffic was down and rent was up.

"We got gentrified," longtime member, painter and CHAC Education Director Arlette Lucero told Denverite last year. "We got priced out."

CHAC was founded in 1978. The organization and space have been a hub for the city's Chicano arts scene, showcasing works by powerhouse artists including Lucero, Emanuel Martinez, Jerry Jaramillo and Tony Garcia.

By 2022, the group had been priced out of Denver and moved to the Lakewood 40 West Art District, a bittersweet move. While CHAC was thrilled to have a new home, the members missed being in their longtime neighborhood.

The move from Denver to Lakewood was widely viewed as a loss to Denver's arts scene.

The loss of CHAC was an even bigger blow to the Santa Fe arts district, once part of a thriving Chicano community that has seen an enormous amount of development in recent years.

Denver has been bleeding longtime arts spaces for several years -- even as massive projects like the Santa Fe immersive arts juggernaut Meow Wolf arrived. Multiple small galleries moved to Lakewood's 40 West, including Pirate: Contemporary Art, Edge Gallery and Next.

CHAC will continue to have a presence in Lakewood, though.

"Our main office space will remain in the 40 West Arts District," CHAC posted to social media. "We are hoping to teach classes there as the new space isn't ideal for large workshops with tables and such, so don't fear we will still be around!"

This story has been updated with perspective from Renee Fajardo. 

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