What to see in Denver?
Much more than you think.
A series of incredible places related to history, culture and the most genuine traditions (gastronomic, too) of Colorado.
But also tastes of a surprising nature and above all much art, really a lot of art. It is so spread in the most variegate and original shapes that it forms a sort of underlying theme: since the arrival at the airport it goes together with the visitor in its personal discovery of the city.
And I don’t refer only to the museums of the Golden Triangle Museum District or to the theatres and the exhibitions of the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Or to the several street works you run into exploring the districts of the downtown. I refer to an entire district – east north to Denver downtown – dedicated to art and its more different and incredible expressions: the River North Art District or simply RiNo, as usually its inhabitants call it.
A (former) anonymous grid of streets and crossings with low and square buildings typical of a former industrial district. It literally regained life, passion and color thanks to the bright colors of murals, to the galleries get out of the old commercial stores, to the open spaces, to exhibitions. To the events and the new and curious buildings ready to hold from all over the world artists and young people searching for a space to live and express at the best their creativity.
And even big common areas where to foster the meeting, the socialization and the sharing, maybe through food, music and the excellences of the land.
A happy oasis created by a laborious, closed and motivated artists community that work well together: they are helped by the local people, to re-evaluate in an original and unique way a district that was abandoned to itself until a few years ago. They aim to get it out of the rampant building luxury speculation and of the consequent urban segregation for a gradual and controlled grow helping mainly the local economy.
A community evolving non-stop “creating art”, which adopted as official logo a little stylized rhino – inspiring not only to the RiNo initials but also to the concept of ideal research of “creative rhinos” in the art field: it tells itself to visitors as River North Art District, where art is made!
RiNo boasts a mix of creative exploits involving visual artists, designers and stylists, painters, photographers, wood, ceramic and even iron craftsmen.
Art is everywhere, accessible to everyone and very often from the inside of the open spaces it develops without a clear logical thread along the streets, thanks to local and international street artists’ murals, every year in September they come here for a special festival expressly dedicated.
I confess – since I am a fan of the type – to have been bewitched by Jeremy Burns’ “faces”. He’s an artist studio who radically changed his own activity applying himself to murals and street art after a serious car accident (he had a serious right shoulder trauma).
In Rino at 2732, Larimer Street there’s one of his most absorbing works, “Larimer Boy and Girl”, a particular optical illusion. When you walk in either directions of the same street you can sight the faces of a boy and a girl emerging of an orange and turquoise’s sea.
Painting a face is like trying to remember something that anyone (me included) have never seen really.
I move through the lines and I adjust the shapes as far as the face has a dynamic personality making me feel something.
Then by color I try to uniform painting to personality, emotion, mood, to expression, impression or any other thing.
You arrive to RiNo easily by commuter rail (the same fast train reaching Denver Airport) in few minutes from the very central Union Station: it’s enough to get off at 38th Street Blake Station and from here you can use the bike sharing service to move around the district by bike – on foot it would be really too disorganized.
For the maps with the locations of the several art studios, exhibitions, beer tours and the events scheduled in the period of your visit in the city, you can have a look at the updated and really active official website of the community clicking here. Or you can get the seasonal paper guide, available in the visitor center of Visit Denver in the Union Station.
If you decide to dedicate to the district a whole day (a thing I recommend you warmly) you must stop for a lunch, a cocktail or a craft beer tasting (in the city it exists more than 200 local breweries and most of them are right in the River North) at The Source, the ideal place to live and enjoy RiNo like a local.
It’s an innovative Food Emporium at 3350, Brighton Boulevard (get out of an old foundry), a huge space including two good restaurants (The Comida and the Acorn), then a craft brewery (the Crooked Stave), a baker’s, a butcher’s, a café, a coffee shop, a fresh products market, a florist, an art gallery and many others commercial places.
I was told and suggested many times during my visit… Enjoy RiNo, its art, its passions, its people!
At the end of my suggestive experience here, aware of the truth of these words, I have to turn to you this invitation: advise you to include RiNo in your program of Denver and wish you to enjoy atmosphere, art and people at the best, like a local.