American cities have found their “inner city murals” transforming. The urban messages visually tell citizens and tourists alike what the pulse is of a neighborhood and city. From New York City’s Soho to once lost neighborhoods in places like Detroit, Miami, and Denver, art has been a powerful renewal source. Affixed to buildings or presented as outdoor installations, artists and property owners gain rewards from studios and workshops forming to major developments renewing otherwise forgotten communities.
Graffiti of the 60s, 70s, and 80s – an illegal act in America – was a common street form of expression. From the abstract to markings by rival gangs designating territory, most never cared for its value as fine art. Certainly, art has been with us for centuries: from cave walls and inside the great pyramids to war-torn territories and borders like the Berlin Wall, numerous parts of Ireland and in America’s toughest neighborhoods. When artists like Warhol, Basquiat, and Haring took to the streets or “staged” outdoor installations, the acceptance of some expressions became inspirational and of interest (Andy Warhol’s Thirteen Most Wanted Men, 1964, New York State Pavilion, New York World’s Fair, 1964). Building on their predecessors, today’s street and urban artists like Banksy, Shepard Fairy, Cleon Peterson, Retna, Invader, Ron English and Peter Tunney have found new avenues to reach their audiences. Avenues generating livelihoods most would never assume for “artists.” Hollywood embraced most of the previously mentioned artists when “Exit Through The Gift Shop” ran its course for its Oscar nomination. The attention that the film garnered, set various artists up for further influence culturally. Shepard Fairy’s commercial reach has included his fashion brand “Obey.” Auctions and demand for objects like an actual wall painted by Banksy became the rage for certain collectors.
Art in RiNO
At almost every step, the rise of communities around specific installations has given economic viability to areas once forgotten. “Art is for anybody” mantra typically is embraced by the outdoor muralist and families alike. Denver’s RiNO neighborhood is an evolving example. Left for only warehouses and dilapidating structures, few would venture north of the Platte and Downtown in the 70s and 80s. In the late 80s, urban advocates began to reclaim lower downtown neighborhoods including the larger Five Points community. Major League Baseball won approval to create the future home of the Colorado Rockies. With it, came an interest in the nearby real estate. Longtime family property owners began to see benefits. Parking lots gave way to restaurants and community. Old buildings have been restored into live-work spaces, million dollar retreats, and hipster home sites.
As described by 5280 Magazine (April 2017):
Today’s warehouses have given way to Microbrewers, dispensaries and swatches of walls painted with local expressions of mystery, fantasy and ultimately civil messages of hope. Artists were drawn to the grittiness and began to set up shop in downtown Denver’s northeast end. In 2005, the River North Art District was born—and the area’s transformation into a creative hub began. Today, RiNo is home to some of the city’s best restaurants, breweries, bars, galleries, and boutiques (and even a karaoke bar). Co-working spaces, a hotel, and major infrastructure improvements (real sidewalks!) are now cementing RiNo as the place to be in Denver.
How to know that you are in RINO:
According to the River North Art District, it’s I-70 to the north, I-25 to the west, Park Avenue West to the south, and Arapahoe Street to the east.
Residential Real Estate in RiNO:
An outgrowth of wall art is that ultimately people want to rally around the work of art itself. In doing so ownership takes place – or at least a lot of Instagramming when the work is exceptional, interesting or part of something bigger. For RiNO this has meant homes being restored, old abandoned buildings converting to improved commercial spaces and a rebirth taking hold. Today’s property values reflect the change. As of July 2, 2018, 22 residential properties were available for sale in the loosely defined boundaries of RiNO. Mostly condos and townhomes, the smallest unit is 332 square foot 1 Bed & 1 Bath condo offered at $179,900. The largest unit is a 2,063 square foot loft with 2 bedrooms and 3 baths. To further explore available properties reach the team at MASONmodern.com today.
5280 Magazine says:
The Vibe: Energetic. Graffiti-covered facades and alleyways create a sense of cohesion between the new builds and more run-down structures. There’s something for almost anyone in RiNo, so expect to mingle with a cross-section of Denver’s growing population.
Getting Around: The neighborhood is small, so walking or biking (there are various Denver B-cycle stations) are the best options, but there is also free street parking, and the University of Colorado A Line light rail stops at the 38th and Blake station. Drink RiNo launched in January with free rides on circulator eTuks around the neighborhood at select times on Fridays and Saturdays. New pedestrian bridges, continuous sidewalks, and protected bike lanes are all in the works or completed in certain areas as part of the city’s North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative redevelopment projects.
What to Do In RINO:
AQIQ (Our Pick:) Hop Alley and Fish & Beer.
5280 Magazine says:
Hunger pangs are easily quieted in RiNo–once you decide where to go. Indecisive eaters should book it to six-month-old Denver Central Market, a food hall featuring a bakery, butcher, fish market, and ice cream shop, among other purveyors. For an a.m. bite, Port Side satisfies with strong coffee and delectable breakfast sandwiches, or grab a buttery morning bun to-go from Babettes Artisan Bakery inside the Source, another market hall. At lunch, stop by Stowaway Coffee & Kitchen for a salad, or grab a patio table and any sandwich served on the fresh-baked ciabatta at the Preservery. For dinner, you’ll find everything from Italian (Il Posto) to burgers (Chuburger) to ramen (Osaka Ramen) to seafood (Fish N Beer) to eclectic American eats (The Populist, Acorn).
AQIQ: Ratio Beer Works
5280 Magazine says:
Blue Moon Brewery features a menu of more than 20 rotating beers—and an expansive patio.
Drink: Beer rules in this neighborhood (11 breweries and counting). But there’s booze to satisfy every taste, including cideries, wineries, and bars serving a little bit of everything (a speakeasy, distillery, and more are on tap for the neighborhood this year). We’re fans of Pon Pon Bar when we’re catching up with a friend and Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club for a special night out. During warm-weather happy hours, find us on the small patio at Cart-Driver or enjoying the fresh air at Blue Moon Brewery. For a caffeine buzz, stop by the neighborhood’s newest java house, Blue Sparrow Coffee.
Urban Art to Contemporary Influencers
AQIQ: RedLine Contemporary Art Center & EXDO Event Center
5280 Magazine says:
Get Cultured: Of course, no trip to RiNo would be complete without some art. Beyond the fantastic outdoor graffiti and murals, the area is home to more than a dozen galleries and numerous artist studios. RedLine Contemporary Art Center is a not-to-be-missed neighborhood institution. We’re also fond of exhibitions at Helikon Gallery & Studios and Dateline, as well as whatever show longtime residents Sharon and Rexford Brown are curating at the Pattern Shop Studio, their house-slash-gallery. Contemporary dance company Wonderbound also calls the ‘hood home.
5280 Magazine says:
Sweat It Out: Fitness studios are becoming increasingly common as more people settle down in and around RiNo. Earn your beer (or cider or wine) with a spin workout at Epic Ryde, a pole fitness lesson at Tease Studio, a combo class at QiFlow, or a restorative hour at Manna Pilates.