Colorado is filled with first-rate muralists, but they usually create their pieces in solitary (and sometimes secret) sessions. That makes a street-art fest an ideal opportunity to catch some of the city's best creatives at work, to meet them and to learn more about how they're changing the artistic landscape of the state.
From Thursday, July 15, to Sunday, July 18, the women and nonbinary mural festival Babe Walls will take over the Ralston Creek Trail in Arvada, where nearly thirty artists from around the world will be painting trailside murals under overpasses.
Here are five of the many artists we're excited to see in action:
Relatively new to muralism, Denver artist and educator Yazmine Atmore, who makes art under the name Yazz, explores spirituality through collage-heavy works. She mixes portraiture and natural symbolism, incorporating colorful flora and fauna on top of black-and-white figures, in the process commenting on the soulful lives of her subjects. Many of her works express joy and freedom, though some of them also grapple with moodier themes and the limits of time.
Alicia Cardenas, the owner of Sol Tribe Tattoo & Piercing, has been a major force in Denver's tattoo scene. Over the past few years, she has also taken on muralism, painting pieces that incorporate ancient geometry and subtly tackle out-of-whack power dynamics, settler colonialism and patriarchy in the city. She describes her pieces as prayers, created with recycled paint and aimed at purifying and healing the land.
Influenced by electronic music, Denver artist and graphic designer A.L. Grime incorporates pop-art sensibilities into large-scale murals rich with swirling, thumbprint-like patterns and pixilated photos. Most of her images are heavily mediated through a technological lens, and she even uses augmented and virtual reality in her works. She mixes abstraction, geometry and some representation — including a particular obsession with eyes and the human face — in sprawling, mostly black-and-white pieces.
Northern New Mexico artist Jodie Herrera has been exploring addiction, abuse and trauma in both oil paintings and large-scale murals. Her research process is documentary-based and loaded with symbolism from the subjects she portrays. While her work comes from a photorealist tradition, her use of iconography also brings in mystical and philosophical components that traditional portraiture largely avoids. She has rightfully earned her reputation as a favorite out-of-towner in Denver's street-art scene.
Illustrator and painter Adri Norris has been busy chronicling the stories of unruly women in history through muralism and paintings. She started life in Barbados, then grew up in New York and New Mexico before joining the Marines; she eventually moved to Colorado, painting and drawing along the way. While many of her murals are largely decorative, Norris's work doubles as an educational tool, ensuring that the stories of the rebellious women she documents in her Women Behaving Badly series are preserved in public space. She hopes that her murals inspire young girls and provide them with role models.
Babe Walls takes over the Ralston Creek Trail from Thursday, July 15, through Sunday, July 18. For a full lineup of artists and directions, go to the Babe Walls website.
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