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  • Writer's pictureCori Anderson

Top 10 Favorite Murals From CRUSH WALLS 2019

CRUSH WALLS celebrated its 10th anniversary this year from September 2 to 8, and the festival that once survived as an underground graffiti weekend is now a grown-up event. With around 80 artists transforming walls all throughout the RiNo (River North) neighborhood, CRUSH WALLS is like Christmas for street art lovers and is attracting thousands of visitors to Denver every year.

Last year for CRUSH, I operated the first-ever guided walking tours while the artists were painting under the name Rebel Tours. With at least two tours each day of the week, with an extra two on the weekends, I was completely exhausted by the time the week was over. But this year, I took a step back and just appreciated the festival as an onlooker (and a writer for 303 Magazine).

And even though it's really hard to pick favorites when there are nearly 100 murals to choose from, I've done it anyway. The top 10 murals from the 10th anniversary of CRUSH WALLS. Feast your eyes.

#10 - Casey Kawaguchi

Photo by Peter Kowalchuk © All Rights Reserved

Denver-based artist Casey Kawaguchi has one of those iconic styles that is instantly recognizable. His character is a mysterious woman who yields both weapons and paintbrushes in a breathtaking mixture of street art and Japanese ink drawings.

Where to find it: Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse, 3636 Chestnut Place, Denver, CO

#9 - Anna Charney and Kendall Kippley

Photo by Peter Kowalchuk © All Rights Reserved

This wasn't the first CRUSH for Anna Charney, a Denver-born-and-raised street artist who has been taking over the local scene in the last several years. Her hard work shows in the expert level of her craft on this new wall in North RiNo. With help from a painting assistant and friend Kendall Kippley, Charney created an illusion-inspired abstract piece in her signature blue tones while stepping it up a few notches in her can control and depth.

Where to find it: Proof Liquor, 3360 Larimer Street, Denver, CO

#8 - Max Coleman

Photo by Peter Kowalchuk © All Rights Reserved

Max Coleman, who goes by Oak Bloak on Instagram, caught my attention this past spring when I noticed one of his murals in an alley off East Colfax. It was painted mostly within the same color palette as this one — primary tones like blue, yellow, and red with a few add-ins of pink or white. Now that I've seen more of his murals popping up in Denver and in Boulder, I'm starting to realize that he creates street art with an ecological message. Not only that, but his technique is spot-on, though he'll need to start using spray paint if he wants to paint murals as big as he should paint them.

Where to find it: Crema Coffee House, 2862 Larimer Street, Denver, CO

#7 - Sandra Fettingis

Photo by Peter Kowalchuk © All Rights Reserved

Denver-based artist Sandra Fettingis always strikes a chord with me because I LOVE patterns and she takes them to a whole new nerdy level. Each one of her murals is precisely planned out ahead of time, and each line is tediously hand-painted by her (and sometimes a friend for help and company). This one stands out from her other work because of the fiery color choices on a black background — bold choices for an artist who usually adds beautiful but subtle accents to buildings.

Where to find it: On Brighton Boulevard/Broadway near Blake Street, Denver, CO

#6 - Smug One and Taste

Photo by Cori Anderson © All Rights Reserved

Every year, the parking lot of Denver Central Market hosts the biggest names invited to CRUSH WALLS as a kind of headquarters to the festival. Last year, it offered walls for Shepard Fairey, Kryptic, Nick Napoletano and more. This year, the biggest wall was reserved for a collaboration between Denver-based graffiti artist Taste and international street artist Smug One. Using similar colors, the two artists paired the graffiti lettering with a dope skull and brought the heart of CRUSH WALLS back to the headliner lot.

Where to find it: Denver Central Market, 2669 Larimer Street, Denver, CO

#5 - Marka27

Photo by Cori Anderson © All Rights Reserved

Victor Quinonez - aka Marka27 - is originally from Juarez, Mexico but spends his time traveling the world and painting murals where he goes. This wasn't his first time in Denver for CRUSH — he came in 2017 and left one of my all-time favorite murals at the Denver Rock Drill — but this was his first time in the central part of RiNo. Marka27's skill is only getting better, and everything he does is with spray paint, freehanded.

Where to find it: Gerard's Pool Hall - alley wall, 1305 26th Street, Denver, CO

#4 - The Designosaur and Aerose Art

Photo by Peter Kowalchuk © All Rights Reserved

Another collaboration mural on this list, this time by two women — The Designosaur and Julia Rose Morgan - aka Aerose Art. Working in similar styles, the two created a loving scene between two sea-creature-esque humans. With vibrant shades of pink, red, blue and yellow next to each other, it feels electric just looking at it. Although this is the first collaboration we've seen between these two artists, we hope there are many more to come.

Where to find it: Embassy Tavern, 3459 Larimer Street, Denver, CO

#3 - Lauren YS aka Squidlicker

Photo by Cori Anderson © All Rights Reserved

This Los Angeles-based artist has been at the top of my list to see in recent years, and I'm not the only one. She's close to surpassing 150,000 followers on Instagram and paints all over the world. This piece is now gracing the main CRUSH WALLS parking lot/headquarters for at least the next year and it's called "Puck Demon." I love Lauren's illustrator-style and I love even more that she uses spray paint to achieve that effect.

Where to find it: Matchbox, 2625 Larimer Street, Denver, CO

#2 - Alexandrea Pangburn and R0melle

Photo by Peter Kowalchuk © All Rights Reserved

This year's CRUSH WALLS was all about collaboration and working together between artists, so it's no wonder that a majority of the murals I'm featuring on this list are team jobs. #2 is another collab, and another all-women collab, featuring Denver-based artists R0melle and Alexandrea Pangburn. Pangburn is the Creative Director for CRUSH and curates shows occasionally at local galleries. Together the two artists painted a towering bird on top of a splashed neon background for an urban-jungle vibe that I can't get enough of.

Where to find it: Il Posto, 2601 Larimer Street, Denver, CO

#1 - Luis Valle and Anthony Garcia Sr.

Photos by Peter Kowalchuk © All Rights Reserved

Make sure to click through the slideshow to see both photos of this amazing collaboration mural by Nicaraguan-born, Miami-based Luis Valle and Denver's own Anthony Garcia Sr. The two artists are known in their independent practices for creating colorful, pattern-driven illustrations that are inspired by Indigenous roots. In this mural, a stylized Indigenous woman and her child expresses both South American and North American native cultures in a vulnerable way. It's a lament over the vulnerability of native ways of life, but also an ode to the hopefulness that native cultures can unite and thrive, leading the way with compassion and understanding.

Where to find it: Alley behind Dateline Gallery, 3004 Larimer Street, Denver, CO

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