WHAT: RMGA FAM of RiNo ARTS DISTRICT: KEEPING RIVER NORTH DENVER WILD!
Art, Food, Craft Beer, Agriculture, Wine Tour
WHEN: Tuesday, May 17 2016
ORGANIZER: Dutch Hodges, 720-308-6690.
Simple Maps will be provided at the RedLine site, so to stay on track. Easy walking tour in the afternoon.
A surprising and fascinating aspect of the Denver experience is the art and soul of any town – its artists, museums and galleries. It’s up to us to tell the hidden stories too; from modern works to sculptural masterpieces, art of all kinds are showcased and celebrated in RiNo. While fine arts and contemporary museums are filled with famed collections, local painters, sculptors, and multimedia artists populate the edgy warehouses in this special, burgeoning area, north and east of Denver. The May trip is an architectural feast to see, a remarkable community developed initially by the ingenious Mickey Zeppelin, with his TAXI 10 years ago. This opportunity will be an inspiring head on look at the future of our city.
10:00 a.m. Meet at RedLine Art Center, south edge of RiNo.
11:00 a.m. Carpool if possible to TAXI, returning for parked cars at the end of the tour.
11:30 a.m. Justin will accompany us to The Source, 5 minute drive from TAXI, a bustling marketplace in a neat 1880’s foundry (formally Buddy’s Storage).
Noon Lunch at ACORN Restaurant in The Source. (Sarah Iverson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 720-724-4553).
1:00 p.m. Walking Tour with Tracy Weil to WeilWorks, home gallery and garden, Plinth Ceramics, Helikon Gallery.
3:30 p.m. Stop on your own en route home to Blake Street Glass, the Pattern Shop Studio, 3349 Blake St, 303-2979831, the Gallery and Home of Rex and Sharon (superb!!), and Ice Cube Gallery, 3320 Walnut St, 303-292-1822 (on map).
FAM – May 17, 2016
Dutch Hodges planned an exciting tour of RiNo (River North Arts District), the area north of LoDo and Coors Field. This section of Denver has been and is being repurposed and redeveloped, expanding the arts community beyond the Santa Fe Arts District and South Broadway.
We met at 10 am at the Red Line Art Center at 2350 Arapahoe Street, not hard to find, with ample parking around the building. This space was once a vacuum repair shop and a warehouse for a horse racetrack. Director Louise Martorano gave us a tour showing the library, gallery spaces, and studios. Red Line was the vision of Laura Morage in 2007, which she intended to be a safe space for artists – both in terms of the community and for artists to take risks with their visions. Red Line is a catalyst for the art community – it is a 501(c) non-profit to foster education, supported by memberships, grants and donations. The building was the gift of the founder who also supplied funds for maintenance.
The program is unique around the country in that selected artists in residence can stay two years. Red Line has approximately 60 applications each year. Grantees can choose to fill a few of the studios becoming vacant at the end of another artist’s two-year residency. Currently, there are 15 artists in residence. There will be space for 10 studios this year and if artists are willing to share, as many as 20 artists. All artists must live in Denver (and seek their own housing) and supply their materials. In the future, housing is being planned as part of the vision for the program. Red Line has secured $90,000 of scholarship funds for artists to attend courses at Rocky Mountain School of Art and Design.
The artists serve many local schools in collaboration with students and teachers and can be resident artists in those programs. They have worked on social justice projects and there are several community outreach and charity spaces nearby. Red Line holds fundraisers by selling art and the artists are also invited to attend and talk about their work.
We looked into several studios and met two of the resident artists. Sandra Fettengis has several pieces on display in the city – along the A-Line commuter rail to DIA stops, in Larimer Square and the Cow Center. Jennifer, another artist, loves being in the studio for the connection with other artists, the access to the public, and the community outreach. She is a printmaker with a Master of Arts degree. Jennifer teaches in Italy with local students during the summer through University of Colorado and the Art Students’ League.
TAXI! We then car-pooled to 3455 South Ringsby Court, off Brighton Road, and met with Jamey Bridges at Zeppelin Development. Mickey Zeppelin is the originator of the idea to redevelop in this area. Originally the building was the Yellow Cab Headquarters. In 2001, Mickey Zeppelin started creating the area as a mixed-use live/work environment. The buildings have an industrial/modern feel, much like the commercial hub designed 50 year ago. TAXI II, started in 2007, consists of offices on the first and second floors with residences above. The condos range from 1-2 bedrooms to two-story townhomes with 2-4 bedrooms. A 600 sq. ft. condo will cost around $250,000. The buildings are LEED certified and have 23’ ceilings and concrete floors, again emphasizing the industrial past. The office buildings were freight warehouses and each has a common area, common kitchen, and multiple conference spaces. Natural light comes from above and the feel is open and airy.
Zeppelin and his son continue to develop and enhance the area next to the river. RiNo Park is planned on 35th Avenue with bike and pedestrian trails and a pedestrian bridge across the river. From here it’s an easy walk to Blake Street.
Then on to The Source: the building was a mining equipment factory in an earlier life – the Colorado Iron Works. Then it was used for storage for years. There is a lot of natural light – which is the original window design – electricity would have been an expensive luxury. We looked in all the shops – florist, Babette’s bakery, butcher shop, specialized grocery, and Box Car Coffee. On Sundays there is an indoor farmer’s market from 10 am to 2 pm beginning May 24th and running through October. There are pop-up kiosk-type special booths. There are a few office spaces on the upper level. Crooked Stave brewery has a tap room here (brewery elsewhere) and Mondo Market offers gourmet foods and Colorado products.
The Source has restaurants – Acorn, which is a farm to table restaurant and has been written up in Westword, 5280 Magazine and the Denver Post. The graffiti on the walls was there and preserved when the restaurant opened. The other restaurant is COMIDA Bistro, a Mexican Tacqueria, where we had a great lunch.
During our midday break, Tracy Weil, co-founder and Board chair for RiNo, as well as the owner of WeilWorks Gallery, gave us an overview of how RiNo got started and developed. Tracy is a painter and owns his studio, also creating a ½ acre for a heritage tomato farm that he sells to gardeners. Tracy’s style of art is (as he put it) Dr. Seuss stuff.
He noted that there is lots of outdoor space in RiNo and an emphasis on outdoor art. RiNo is modeled somewhat on the Santa Fe Arts District on South Santa Fe Street. In January 2006, the Rocky Mountain News has an article on RiNo on the front page “Where Art is Made.” By 2007 there were 50 locations (some renting for as little as $7/sq. ft.). In 2010 – 2011 the state certified RiNo as an Art District and offered advice on membership and planning. Now there are 180 locations – artists, studios, galleries, architects and restaurants – all “creative” businesses. RiNo has created relationships with developers so that the old warehouse flavor is not lost and that rents do not price the artists out of the area. Some rental space goes for as little as $1 - $2/sq. ft. so that artists can afford to work here.
2014 saw the city allot $75,000 from taxes to develop a Business Improvement District (4 mil tax). $25 million is allotted for the Brighton Blvd. update. RiNo has an annual budget of $1.3 million now. Trees, lighting and signage will be added to market the district as an art district. Denver City Parks and Recreation expects to finish this by 2018 at a cost of $1.8 million.
There will soon be a Kaiser Medical Campus in the district (Kaiser owns a great art collection) that will be 12 stories tall and will blend into the RiNo district. The World Trade Center will move to 30th and Blake and will have international gallery space.
Weil described the boundaries of the district as roughly I-70, I-25, and Larimer and Lawrence and Park Avenue.
After lunch we visited Plinth – a gallery and ceramics studio. “Plinth” means “foundation.” The owner has three lots, each 25’ x 110’ and has a gallery on the first floor, lives on the upper floor and has several other artists’ work on display at this time.
From Plinth we walked across the corner to Helikon (from Greek mythology) at 3675 Wynkoop, a family owned business. The building contains studios as well as display areas. They have 20 artists with studios in the building; the gallery displays work of illustrative arts and the currently show has works only from in-house artists. There are more than 400 pieces on display. Helikon participates in First Friday Art Walk.
The neighborhood housed the Barnett Lumber and Demolition Company in 1919. In 1974 the current building was constructed as a warehouse and maintenance building for the lumber company. In 2010 the opportunity came to repurpose the building and Helikon Gallery & Studios was born. Under the ownership and direction of family members Cayce and Charlie Goldberg and Kelly Nessimbene, the gallery advocates for traditional painting and drawing, fine art prints, emerging media like digital painting and vector art, and the inclusion of illustration and design as fine art. They believe that art ought to be an accessible and enjoyable experience for everyone regardless of prior experience, knowledge, or finances. The family feels this is a more affordable gallery than many others. The artists designate the selling price for each piece, and most are under $1,000. There is also a coffee shop on-site for visitors and special events.
This was our last stop and attendees headed for home after a very informative time in RiNo. Thanks to Dutch Hodges for her planning and interest and to Mike Pearl and the Education Committee for a great day.
TAXI - Jamey Bridges 720-296-3610
Comida Restaurant 303-296-2747
Plinth Gallery 303-295-0717
The Source, Justin 303-573-0781
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